I don’t know about you, but whenever there is a mass or high profile shooting, after about five minutes of watching the news, I feel like having a shower.
The report goes on ad nauseam, dissecting every little detail of the perpetrator’s life, splashing his or her face and name into every nook and cranny of a newscast on every anchor desk, every hour, every day, until the next mass murder comes along.
We get that the editors and producers want to find out why and how it can happen. But after the umpteenth tragedy, it should be clear by now that there are no answers. Even if one can anticipate and pinpoint the actual date a crime is about to happen, there are no legal ways to stop someone from carrying out a nefarious act until they declare it.
But as a viewer, I, like the rest of you, do go through a period, and especially when the story has a personal connection, where I am consumed with the news. During those close-to-home times, it may not be 24/7 enough. We all felt that during 9-11, and probably most Canadians felt that during the recent Ottawa shooting on Parliament Hill.
But from the actual family of the victim’s perspective, the continuous reset of the story and the perpetrator is like a fresh assault with each name and image. It turns the media into the thug.
No Notoriety = No Media Thuggery
The gunmen behind mass shootings crave the notoriety. They even smile for the camera, if they are not cowardly enough to take themselves out alongside their victims. So the premise behind the nonotoriety.com website is:
We CHALLENGE THE MEDIA to stop the gratuitous use of the name and likeness of mass shooters thereby depriving these violent individuals the spotlight they so crave.
Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter was one of the dead from the Aurora theater shooting, wrote an opinion piece for Politico: The Killer I Refuse to Name. He is tired of seeing the media turning their children’s death into entertainment, which suspiciously seems to be all about ratings more than storytelling the news.
During Stelter’s broadcast, the question was thoughtfully asked: “As a journalist, do you want to be Walter Cronkite or TMZ?”
If we can clean up the Internet one post at a time, perhaps we can clean up the news one report at a time, by adhering to the suggested media protocol and thus end what shooting victims and their families might see as media thuggery.