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Published 4 years ago with 14 Comments

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Conversation 6 comments by 5 users
  • caelreth

    Kind of makes sense, really. All the press such an attack gets gets the attention of someone who is already prone to doing the same and... Copycat!

    • HeyYourself

      Also the fact that most school shootings are done by students seeking attention. If other students who also seek attention see all that big media coverage, and the face on the shooter in every TV of the country, newspapers and the internet, they'll probably try that too.

      • BurtMacklinFBI

        You hit the nail on the head. But the media won't stop sharing the news with pictures of the shooter with blaring sounds and visuals of sirens. These stories are a gold mine and I think in a way many people actually enjoy seeing these kinds of stories, they're exciting and dangerous, it's a dangerous cycle.

        • leweb

          It's the same kind of psychology that drove the Romans to the circus, but more perverse.

    • BlueOracle

      I'm glad that it's being studied. I had wondered about copycat crimes and the role the media plays in that. It's probably too much to ask for the media to tone the coverage down a bit. "If it bleeds, it leads," as they say.

      • caelreth

        Yep. The blessing and the curse of a free press, I suppose.

  • Kerwin15
    • BarnyardOwl

      Yup. It's frustrating to see that we're still debating over whether or not "mass killings are contagious" when that episode was made over 6 years ago. It's a shame it didn't get more attention.

  • kabamman

    Makes sense, I wish the media didn't grab these and make the murderer's some sort of anti hero.

  • carpenoctem

    Whilst this study is new, I think few people will be surprised by its findings.

    Something relevant to this is the werther effect/copycat suicide theory. The theory suggests an increase in suicides can occur after knowledge of an original suicide spreads, either locally or through mass media.

    There's even evidence that the werther effect may contribute to an increase in car crashes and plane crashes.

    As a result of the werther effect, some countries have a code of ethics relating to how suicides are reported, so that copycat attempts are reduced.

    Why can't a similar code of ethics apply to mass killings?

    I don't propose that news media should stop reporting on mass-shootings completely. But, for example, maybe the amount of coverage per day is limited or perhaps specific details about the suspect/perpetrator remain censored, so that they aren't "glorified"?

    • septimine

      I think it would go a long way. And it's simple enough to make rules. No airing the perps name or stated motives, spend a lot of time on the victims and note the heroism of those who protected others. Basically change the narrative from "crazy guy with axe to grind gets attention by shooting people " to "victims heroically protect others from deadly shooting ". Make the story about the resistance to the shooting, not the shooting.

  • Fooferhill

    Shocking statistics about the number of incidents. For those of us in countries with well developed gun restriction laws we know this leads to a reduction in shootings- great to see this highlighted in research.

  • NstealthL (edited 4 years ago)

    Interesting read. Makes sense to me that are not only negative consequences but also positive ones (the increased reporting of suspicious people) that stem from mass media coverage. However, wouldn't the increased reporting have some sort of negative effects too, like someone being falsely accused? I guess it just becomes a matter of weighing the choices and going for what causes the least amount of damage overall...

    Also, anyone else a little bit surprised by this?

    "It's the excessive media attention that creates the copycat phenomenon. We make celebrities out of monsters," Levin said, noting that there are trading cards, action figures and magazine covers featuring murderers.

    I mean, I knew about the magazine covers. Trading cards? Um, sure? But action figures? Forget about having a collection of creepy dolls. Nah, have a collection of your favorite murderers! With movable limbs! And accessories!

  • kvn

    The media making huge segments on mass killings... It's a hard compromise. If they share this news, it'll bring word out and the families will receive support from their communities. If they don't share the news, these families will feel like as if they were ignored. Either way, bad things happen. Which one is less bad, that's up to the media.

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