Media debates over whether to show names of mass shooters

Insight

A vigorous debate has sprung up across newsrooms over whether to name and show images of the perpetrators of mass shootings.

Media debates over whether to show names of mass shooters PT1

Media debates over whether to show names of mass shooters PT1

A vigorous debate has sprung up across newsrooms over whether to name and show images of the perpetrators of mass shootings.
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Anchors from Fox News to CNN have debated the merits of identifying the people who commit these mass crimes, like at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly opposed the practice. Meanwhile, CNN’s Don Lemon has said to Kelly, “Hi Megyn. My heart agrees with you, but I believe we journalists must name shooters.”

A growing number of scholars, advocates and newsroom executives are saying that the media does have an impact on these mass killings. They said it has become painfully clear that many perpetrators of mass killings want their name and picture out there; in short, they said, they are seeking notoriety and by naming them the media feeds the desire.

A new study from the American Psychological Association is giving new weight to this argument. On August 4, it presented research saying people who “commit mass shootings in America tend to share three traits: rampant depression, social isolation and pathological narcissism.” And it’s that last point, they said, that makes naming them in the news a problem

What is the best way for the media to approach this controversial topic? How should journalist approach the issue? Does the media play a role in preventing the next mass shooting or terror attack?

Tonight’s Insight takes a look at the debate. CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar spoke with Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and Jeffrey Dvorkin, lecturer and director of the Journalism Program, Dept. of Arts, Culture and Media at the University of Toronto.