U.S. Media Should Learn a Lesson, STOP Sharing Mass Killers Names & Faces

Opinion

Christchurch Shooter Blurred
Most recent Shooter Blurred on Judge's Order

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)-There is one thing that most mass shooters have in common. It isn't the SSRI medications.

It is their desire to be known even if that means they are infamous. It all started when the Columbine killers had their names and faces plastered on every network across the globe. This media frenzy is the notoriety that they wanted and in death, the media awarded them their ultimate goal.

Last week there was a brutal attack in Christchurch New Zealand that left 49 people dead and many family members mentally scarred for life. Looking for answers, I read the shooters manifesto that was posted everywhere online. One clear thing is that he wanted to be known and wanted to this notoriety to spread his sickening message of hatred.

The judge in the case has ordered the shooters face to be pixelated to guarantee a fair trial.

A side effect of the judge's order to pixelate all videos and pictures of the killer is that the court order prevented him from achieving one of his goals. That goal was to become a symbol of “white supremacy” and gain fame from his heinous acts.

The Charleston church killer inspired the New Zealand killer, and he planned to replicate his influence in other would be killers. He read articles and watched news stories about that murderer and wanted to follow in the shoes of the Charleston killer.

Should the media be blamed for the shooting in New Zealand? Absolutely not! The only one that responsible for senseless killings is the person pulling the trigger. The splattering of the Charleston killer's name and face all over the media didn't help though, and the media does bear some responsibility.

In my stories for this and other websites, I have been guilty of reporting the names of mass killers in the past. The naming of the murderers is something I have stopped doing and wish other journalists would commit to stopping as well. We have to learn how to balance reporting the news and not giving these monsters what they want.

The first journalist that I know of that pushed for the media to stop naming and showing the pictures of these killers was Philip DeFranco. DeFranco is an independent journalist whose primary platform is YouTube.

DeFranco might be on YouTube, but his numbers are something that most mainstream journalist could only imagine in their dreams. He averages more daily viewer than CNN by a large margin. CNN pulls in an average of 944k in Prime Time. DeFranco uploads two videos a day which averages 1.3 million views per video.

Ben Shapiro is another media personality that has stopped naming these killers. Shapiro has one of the biggest podcasts in the world and is Chief Editor of the Daily Caller. His reasoning is to stop playing into these killer’s hands.

Another journalist that tries to avoid using the mass killer's name is Beth Baumann of Townhall.com. Town Hall doesn't bar her from using their names, but she has made the conscious choice to try to avoid giving these murderers the spotlight.

“One of the things that mass shooters long for is attention and notoriety in the media,” Baumann told me. “I try my best not to include their names in stories because it does a disservice to the victims. It shifts the attention from those who lost their lives to those who did the killing.”

Other journalists in the independent realm have also joined in the movement to not name and show pictures of these killers. Unfortunately, most mainstream media seems to be resistant to the idea. The Washington Post even did the complete opposite with a profile piece on one of these sick mass murderers.

Tony Biasotti of the Columbia Journalism Review points out that journalist who names the killers are feeding into the motivation of these murderers. This is a charge that the Washington Post pushed back against by stating that such profiles help the reader know the “accused killer’s history within that community.

Biasotti's story links to a 2015 study from Arizona State University that found that the media coverage of each mass killing is partially responsible for .30 of future mass killings. That is a chilling number and haunting thought our reporting as a journalist could cause such bloodshed.

In recent days some journalist at the Washington Post Editorial Page has started coming around to the theory that by not using name and pictures of the killers that it can cut down on the motivation of these disturbed people.

Washington Post Megan McArdle wrote an opinion piece about using names in articles. In the article, McArdle points out these killers crave fame. Maybe McArdle should push for change in the Washington Post newsroom.

As researchers hold more studies into the contagion mass killings, just like with suicide, it becomes evident that by us as journalist naming the names of the killers it feeds into a vicious cycle. Even anti-gun professor Adam Lankford agrees with the coverage leads to more killings. I don't agree with Lankford on much as our previous run-ins have shown, but this is one thing I think he got right.

No Notoriety Media Protocol
No Notoriety Media Protocol

Several groups are challenging the media not to feed into the egos of these mass killers. The first group is “No Notoriety” which challenges the media not to use the killer's names or show their photos.

The group list mass killings that were at least partially inspired by media coverage of past attacks. This list includes the Virginia Tech killer, the Sandy Hook killer, and the Parkland Killer. True to their mission the site doesn't name the killers.

The website links to studies and articles that show the link between sharing the names and pictures of these killers and their violent actions. Another thing the site list is how many times the media has been challenged to stop giving notoriety to these killers. These challenges date back to 2012 when Tom Teves challenged Anderson Cooper not use the Aurora movie killer's name. The killer shot Teves' son, Alex Teves, and 11 others during a screening of The Dark Knight.

The Aurora movie killer told his psychiatrist that “he couldn’t make a mark on the world with science but could become famous by blowing up people.”

It seems that these calls for the media to stop using names and pictures as well as doing a full profile on the killers sometimes fall on deaf ears. The sexy story is always about the killer and not the victims. This reporting is something in the journalist community that we need to change.

The second group that is pushing for change in the media world is “Don't Name Them.” The ALERRT™ Center at Texas State University developed the group.

Their plan is to put public pressure on media outlets and law enforcement agencies to change policies about releasing names and pictures of mass murders. They are using petitions and letters to the editor to push for this change.

Don't Name Them” centers their efforts around a study done by Texas State University that show the seeking of fame influences most mass shooters. They believe by the media plastering their names and faces everywhere it is causing copycat acts of violence, and they have the research to back up this assertion.

The group also links to the FBI's request for the media to stop using names and faces of mass killers. Most of the mainstream media ignore these requests. I for one can only guess that they feel like their ratings will take a hit if they don’t go for the killer angle. When acts of violence happens the public always wants to know who did it and why.

Let me be clear; I am not calling for any government regulation of the media to combat the sharing of the names and faces of these mass killers. We need to make this choice as members of the media. We need to stop feeding into the cycle. The research is clear, and the media does play a role in spawning mass killers.

The problem is not just the media. It is you! Every time you share a video of a mass killing, the Facebook profile of the killer, the killer's name, their manifesto, or their picture you are giving these twisted individuals what they want. I am begging you to stop the madness!

The New Zealand killer wanted his message spread across the world. The same goes for the Charleston Church killer. They are achieving their goal, but why should we give these murderers what they want? They don't care about jail or even the death penalty. They care about being famous and having their ideology spread. That needs to stop now!

In my journalism and my personal life, I have made the decision not to share the names and faces of these murders. I have in the past, and that is on me, but going forward I will refuse to feed into the cycle that helped spawn these individual’s twisted goals.

I hope you will join me in taking a stand against the sharing of the names, pictures, profiles, or manifestos of these mass killers.


About John CrumpJohn Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crum

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    EarlGary S.Papa Bearwilly dRoy D. Recent comment authors
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    Earl
    Guest
    Earl

    Not publicizing the names and photos of violent offenders is just more well-intended “symbolism over substance” censorship and propaganda. We, the people, need to know who these offenders are, to enable investigators to better identify any associates, contacts or prior activities. The media does not have to immortalize these offenders, but should broadcast and publish accurate and relevant information

    Gary S.
    Guest
    Gary S.

    Do any of you remember when at Sporting Events the camera jumped on fights in the stands or “Streakers”. Somehow when they stopped showing it on TV, it has all but disappeared. Yes I know there are still fights but unless they appear on a “Dumb Acts” video, they usually remain unknown. Yes I know the security has improved but I am positive the no broadcast option has worked

    willy d
    Guest
    willy d

    Speedy trial, Public TELEVISED EXECUTION for all to see, TO HELL WITH THE LIB”S about cruel and unjust punishment to the murderer, what about the victims and how much pain was inflicted on them when they were killed?? Why should we be worried as to how mush pain is inflicted on them for execution, it can’t happen to them enough times for the people that were murdered!!!!! When convicted they only live on Death Row and file appeals to get reduced sentences, instead of being executed!!!!! How many are on Death Row waiting and now you have a week back… Read more »

    Roy D.
    Guest
    Roy D.

    So I guess, according to Mr. Crump, that we should not mention Stalin, Hitler, Mao, or any one of a thousand other mass murders in history. Mr. Crump should go back to kindergarten and start his education all over again. Maybe he will get it right this time.

    circle8
    Guest
    circle8

    The media wants to publicize all of these idiots. They want to convince the world that anyone who owns a firearm is dangerous. The danger comes from the media and the damn democrats. Both want as much bad publicity as possible to achieve their goal which is TOTAL DISARMAMENT of the people. That way only the police and the military plus “privileged democrats” will be armed. Remember the old wrinkled diane feinstein wants to take away our rights to have a CCW but she will keep hers. AN UNARMED CITIZEN IS A SUBJECT LIVING IN BONDAGE. Even the former congresswoman… Read more »

    Papa Bear
    Guest
    Papa Bear

    Ya stole my thunder there circle8. All I can do now is say that I agree with you 100%!!

    Boz
    Guest
    Boz

    Lefties worship and idolize these mass killers….who usually (98% of the time) end up being other lefties.

    Core
    Guest
    Core

    I have supported stopping coverage of the faces of those who carry out criminal attacks and avoid calling them any other than murderer’s. The media empowers those with radical ideology and gives them a platform to become legend. The media learned by the ISIS executions of journalists that they had to stop covering the imagery (probably forced by legal repercussions by family members of employees). The media is no longer moral, and they no longer care to report the news, but rather propaganda, disinformation, and simply market their funding stream’s agenda. Aside from local news, and some feel good reporting:… Read more »

    Laddyboy
    Guest
    Laddyboy

    Being names as an assaulter and having the assaulter’s picture is not the problem. The BIGGEST PROBLEM is when the “news people” CONTINUE, CONTINUE, CONTINUE to rebroadcast the incident. Showing the attacker’s picture and name. DROP the continuous REBROADCASTING of the incident. Stop giving the ASSAULTER the attention he/she is after.

    joefoam
    Guest
    joefoam

    Laddyboy, nailed it. I’m for blanketing the faces and names of the murderers, but I also would like to see the life of the guy dissected and excoriated, along with all those who enabled them. And yes, please stop with the incessant rebroadcasting of the event just to get ratings.

    Carlton D. Bullington
    Guest
    Carlton D. Bullington

    So I have stop being informed because you didnt execute on the spot. Do you no how much greif, and expence you are causing every man, woman, child. Death for death.

    Matt in Oklahoma
    Guest
    Matt in Oklahoma

    The more they don’t want you to know or see the more you should want to see it.
    A good example is the Netherlands retaliation attack that happened. You didn’t see that on the nightly news did you?

    Greg
    Guest
    Greg

    Respectfully John I disagree. Not sharing a face or name will do nothing to stop an individual like this. Mr. Tarrant was not motivated by the image of Anders Breivik, but by his philosophy. Blurring images and scrubbing the internet is a slippery slope and given a change in administration you’ll be a victim of this within a couple years. I’ll guarantee millions of Americans would classify you as an American terrorist and certainly the SPLC would.
    Respectfully.

    Quatermain
    Guest
    Quatermain

    Precisely correct, Greg. Censorship in any form has no place in a free country.

    Kevin
    Guest
    Kevin

    He’s not calling for censorship:
    “I am not calling for any government regulation of the media to combat the sharing of the names and faces of these mass killers. We need to make this choice as members of the media. We need to stop feeding into the cycle. The research is clear, and the media does play a role in spawning mass killers.”

    And social media are already “scrubbing the internet” of opinions and people they disapprove of, while the “mainstream” media is cheer-leading that push. Blurring the faces of murderers will have no effect on that.

    Quatermain
    Guest
    Quatermain

    “A rose by any other name…”

    Matt in Oklahoma
    Guest
    Matt in Oklahoma

    It is censorship by the very definition. Feelings don’t change the definition