"Fame and infamy are in an ethical sense, opposites. Functionally, they are nearly identical. "
This quote appeared in a 1994 essay calling for restraint in mass murder reporting. Despite the clear connection, nothing has been done since to cut the supply of attention to those who seek it by lethal violence.
In the height of morbid irony, KIRO and CNN are reporting that the SPU shooter said he wanted to be famous.
It has been 40 years since the first studies established a conclusive copycat link between deviant, dangerous behavior and media coverage, though the connection has been evident since a 1774 Goethe novel spawned a contagious spree of suicides.
It is clear: the way a news organization reports a mass shooting has the potential to directly contribute to the next shooting.
Since the 1980s, prompted by a trend of teen suicide, the media now voluntarily adheres to a code on suicide reporting. It’s now time to establish a new way to responsibly report shootings.
We need the media to take responsibility for the avoidable role they play in propagating this violence.
We, the SPU community and other concerned citizens, in memory of Paul Lee, encourage media organizations to adopt a new policy when reporting on mass shooters:
* Do not publish their name
* Do not publish their picture
* Do not publish their statements
Further, watchdog groups should be formed to encourage responsible reporting by media outlets in the wake of any future tragedies.
When future potential shooters realize they will not be reported on, we will have decreased the likelihood of future tragedies.
Please take a moment to help stop the next shooting before it happens.
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