With the shooting in California last week, questions have once again arisen about the role media plays in encouraging mass killers who crave attention. Some have blamed pop culture.
CBC Radio’ Day Six tried dealing the subject without ever mentioning the killers name or the details of how he killed his victims.
What Do You Think? Do we really need all of the facts surrounding mass killings? Who is going to decide which facts we need and which ones we don’t?
Media feed mass killers’ desire for infamy and attention
May 31, 2014 by Steve Buttry
The mass killings in California last week underscore a point I made in 2012: News media should reconsider giving mass murderers the attention they clearly crave.
I didn’t blog about this immediately after the May 23 killings because I was focused on other matters and I haven’t repeated this point every time a murderer goes on a rampage. But I was immediately struck with how clearly this case was a successful attempt by the killer to go out in a blaze of infamy. His hateful videos and his 141-page diatribe (I think calling it a “manifesto” perhaps overdignifies it) make it clear that attention was as much a motive of this hate crime as was misogyny.
I’m discussing this case a week late because Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of the New York Times, addressed the issue of whether the Times should have published the diatribe and video.
Sullivan’s a friend and the best public editor the Times has had. I’m glad she raised the issue of whether the Times should have published these items and the name of the killer. But I disagree with her conclusion that the Times’ decisions were the right ones.
“In general, I don’t believe in holding back germane information from the public,” she wrote.