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Those We Don't Speak Of: How The Media Can Help Avoid Senseless Tragedies

by Photo of Hannah Rettoun

In the wake of the Aurora, Colo. shooting, less coverage from news outlets may be a necessity.

Those We Don't Speak Of: How The Media Can Help Avoid Senseless Tragedies

It's been three days since the Aurora theater shooting, and our screens have been filled with constant coverage of the incident. 

It seems that whenever a mass murder occurs, news outlets flood our senses with incessant discussions and diagrams about how it happened, why it happened and up-to-the-minute updates on the impending trial.  It turns out that, for years, forensic psychiatrists have been telling news outlets to stop doing just that. 

In this video from 2009, Dr. Park Dietz lists ways to avoid copycat incidents and other horrific consequences.

  • Don't start the story with sirens blaring
  • Don't have photographs of the killer
  • Don't make this 24/7 coverage
  • Do everything you can NOT to make the body count the lead story and 
  • Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero
  • DO localize this story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market

Dietz added, "Every time we have intense saturation of coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more within a week." Chilling. 

If you were to turn on your TV right now, I'm sure you'd see the media contradicting every guideline listed in this video.  While people are morbidly intrigued with learning every detail that would lead a person to commit such heinous murder, it would be far better to keep that suspect out of the limelight. 

Besides the fact that other sick individuals may be inspired to commit a similar offense in the attempt to gain the same infamy, think about the survivors of this tragedy and the families of the deceased.  Constantly showing the face of the man who may have slaughtered their loved ones is just disrespectful. 

President Obama and Colorado governor John Hickenlooper have both decided not to speak the name of the alleged killer, referring to him only as "Suspect A."  

Uproxx.com wrote an article today about the coverage of the Aurora shooting.  "You won't find the [suspected] shooter's name or picture here for an obvious reason: screw that guy. We have no interest in making [him] into some kind of celebrity and poring over everything he's ever said as if he deserves a platform. He's nothing. He's nobody. Let's talk about the people who matter."

The people who matter,Veronica Moser, 6; Rebecca Wingo, 32; Alexander Teeves, 24; Alex Sullivan, 27; Micayla Medek, 23; Matthew McQuinn, 27; Petty Officer John Larimer, 27; Jessica Ghawi, 24; Gordon Cowden, 51; Staff Sgt. Jesse Childress, 29; A.J. Boik, 18; and Jon Blunk, 26, were honored and remembered in Sunday's vigil. 

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