Canadian school shooting (courtesy buzzfeed.com)
Details about the school shooting in Canada are still in short supply. We know that police have a 17-year-old male in custody, facing four counts of murder and seventeen counts of attempted murder. It seems likely that the shooting was motivated by the media coverage given to mass shooters, especially school shootings, in the western world. From thestarphoenix.com . . .

“The community usually pulls together really strong in times like this,” said Clearwater River Dene Nation Chief Teddy Clark on Friday.

“Both Clearwater and La Loche, a lot of people are in shock. This is something that you only see on TV most of the time.” . . .

Desjarlais-Thomas forwarded to The Canadian Press a screenshot of a chilling exchange that had taken place on social media a short time before the shooting between a young male and his friends.

“Just killed 2 ppl,” wrote the young male. “Bout to shoot ip the school.”

The shooter is in custody, so we will likely get more information. But we know that this small town of about 2,600 is not an isolated Canadian village without communications to the outside world. They have electricity, paved streets, television, Internet and most of the modern amenities that exist in Canada and the United States.

It’s fairly certain that this small town has been saturated with media coverage of mass school killings, just like most of the Western world. The media knows that such coverage tends to motivate additional mass shootings. The copycat effect has been extensively written about and researched.

These mass killings still recieve far more media attention than comparable mass killings involving other instruments, such as arson, automobiles, knives or other items. The number of these killings would be substantially reduced if the media simply followed a few simple guidelines recommended by Loren Coleman in his book The Copycat Effect.  The book details strategies for reducing media incentives for mass killings.

(1) The media must be more aware of the power of their words. Using language like “successful” sniper attacks, suicides, and bridge jumpers, and “failed” murder-suicides, for example, clearly suggest to viewers and readers that someone should keep trying again until they “succeed.” We may wish to “succeed” in relationships, sports, and jobs, but we do not want rampage or serial killers, architects of murder-suicide, and suicide bombers to make further attempts after “failing.” Words are important. Even the use of “suicide” or “rampage” in headlines, news alerts, and breaking bulletins should be reconsidered.

(2) The media must drop their clichéd stories about the “nice boy next door” or the “lone nut.” The copycat violent individual is neither mysterious nor healthy, or usually an overachiever. They are often a fatal combination of despondency, depression, and mental illness. School shooters are suicidal youth that slipped through the cracks, but it is a complex issue, nevertheless. People are not simple. The formulaic stories are too often too simplistic.

(3) The media must cease its graphic and sensationalized wall-to-wall commentary and coverage of violent acts and the details of the actual methods and places where they occur. Photographs of murder victims, tapes of people jumping off bridges, and live shots of things like car chases ending in deadly crashes, for example, merely glamorize these deaths, and create models for others ­ down to the method, the place, the timing, and the type of individual involved. Even fictional entertainment, such as the screening of The Deer Hunter, provides vivid copycatting stimuli for vulnerable, unstable, angry, and depressed individuals.

(4) The media should show more details about the grief of the survivors and victims (without glorifying the death), highlight the alternatives to the violent acts, and mention the relevant background traits that may have brought this event to this deathly end. They should also avoid setting up the incident as a logical or reasonable way to solve a problem.

(5) The media must avoid ethnic, racial, religious, and cultural stereotypes in portraying the victims or the perpetrators. Why set up situations that like-minded individuals (e.g. neo-Nazis) can use as a roadmap for a future rampages against similar victims?

(6) The media should never publish a report on suicide or murder-suicide without adding the protective factors, such as the contact information for hot lines, help lines, soft lines, and other available community resources, including email addresses, websites, and phone numbers. To run a story on suicide or a gangland murder without thinking about the damage the story can do is simply not responsible. It¹s like giving a child a loaded gun. The media should try to balance such stories with some concern and consideration for those who may use it to imitate the act described.

(7) And finally, the media should reflect more on their role in creating our increasingly violent society. Honest reporting on the positive nature of being alive in the twenty-first century might actually decrease the negative outcomes of the copycat effect, and create a wave of self-awareness that this life is rather good after all. Most of our lives are mundane, safe, and uneventful. This is something that an alien watching television news from outer space, as they say, would never know. The media should “get real,” and try to use their influence and the copycat effect to spread a little peace, rather than mayhem.

The media benefit from coverage of these events with increased ratings. The old media use them to further the agenda of imposing severe restrictions on gun ownership and use. The restrictions called for often have no relationship to the mass killings committed.

How much more blood will be on the media’s hands before they stop using these events to promote their political agenda without regard to the devastating toll of innocents that they are encouraging?

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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43 Responses to The Media Has More Blood on its Hands with the Canadian School Shooting

  1. There is a reason ancient civilizations banned the names of terrible criminals… So people wouldn’t commit horrendous crimes to be remembered by.
    We should do the same. Memorialize the victims, but ban the name of the criminal for eternity.

      • Then put the school under armed police protection for over a year, demolish the school, have the contractors sign an NDA, and distribute the rubble to undisclosed locations.

        • Technically, though not practically, accurate. But not relevant, given than Rf was ascribing blame to the US media, which does enjoy the protections of our BOR.

      • Just because they CAN report the news in an irresponsible way, doesn’t mean that they SHOULD. Unless they really ARE trying to provoke copycats. I think that is what Dean was alluding to.

        • As always, there are no “They.” Just as there are no “We.” Nor “Them.” Collectivism is a fallacy, period. Always and everywhere.

          The “Theys” who don’t report on juicy subjects, loose subscribers to the “Theys” that don’t have such hangups. Until only, or primarily, the latter is left writing. of course, until “We” start walking all over the 1st, like “We” currently do over the 2nd.

          Stay away from fame seeker attracting crowds, shoot back if shot at, and realize everything you do carries some risk. Some people croak sometimes. That’s all.

    • That is way too close to Stalin’s erasing people from photographs. Hiding the names of these criminals only serves to help the gun controllers.

    • no reason nor constitutional stance to make laws that ban the media’s actions.

      We just need to put it in clear terms, as long as the media continues to do so, they are part of the problem and are enabling the next set of citizens to be potential victims.

      If that message is uniform, as in that it comes from consumers, advertisers, public officials……the media will change their tune…..cause they need the consumers watching, so the advertisers pay their bills and the public figures willing to engage in order to have content.

      i am severely over simplifying it but if the PR staff no longer excepts interview requests from xyznewz.com, if advertisers pull spots from xyznewz.com and if the public denounces xyznewz.com’s idolizing of the shooters…..you will get the desired result.

  2. What else does the media have to do?? Report good news?? Heaven forbid. Nope just the sensationalist as always.
    If it bleeds it leads.
    The media does more to promote these sick people then other form out there.
    It gives them what they want. Their name in the news for all to see.

  3. Excellent article. Well written. Media is a huge part of the problem. Good luck on training them differently.

  4. “Honest reporting on the positive nature of being alive in the twenty-first century might actually decrease the negative outcomes of the copycat effect, and create a wave of self-awareness that this life is rather good after all.” Of course, this assumes decent jobs available for regular youth. That would lead to discussions that the media billionaires and other Masters of the Universe might not approve of. So continue to report on bread, circuses, and sick crime stories, and begin lobbying, as the NYT began today, for Bloomberg as President.

  5. This is the funniest thing I have read so far today.

    The media already has a giant credibility problem with Americans. This list is nothing more than a Social Justice guide to emotional driven, race neutral, non factual reporting.

    How about the media report the actual facts.

  6. Successful media company = profits. Profits = ratings. Rating = blood. Blood = front page news.

    It’s a pretty easy formula for success. So, unless companies stop caring about profits, or people stop caring about blood, neither of which I see happening, nothing will change.

  7. Hit the nail on the head Dean! Just like the outrage manufacturing media likes to promote events like the Mike Brown shooting. The media wants places like Ferguson and Baltimore to burn because it boosts their ratings.

  8. This is generally a good article but the author’s point #7 above is incorrect.

    The truth is that violent crime has been declining for decades now. The reason that many people feel it is ever-increasing is because of the media’s bias toward covering violent events and their tendency to sensationalize those events.

    “If it bleeds, it leads.” is not just a media slogan. It is in fact the way the media does business.

    • The 24 hour news cycle is one of our most terrible and self-destructive inventions.

      The media have gone from actual journalism to selling advertising. All integrity has been excised in favor of being first and being loudest.

  9. THIS shooting has received scant attention in the good ol’ USA…no(or fleeting) mention of the boy being indian/native/1st whatever/inuit. Almost like it didn’t happen…

  10. Before there’s a ban on semi auto’s and “hi capacity” magazines, put a muzzle on the media and their sensationalizing of shootings.

    We’ll see how many mass shootings we’ll have in a year when the media no longer reports on such events.

  11. Further proof that we need to have a registry and permitting system for journalists. And it needs to be onerous and stern.

    • The (newly created) Bureau of Regulated Journalism, Print, Weblogs, and Media undeestands that the first is a collective right and ad such should go into suspected unregulated, unregister journalists and break their typewriters, computers, printing presses, phones, and makes them eat all the pencils they own on camera, before taking them away.

      The hallmark of this agency is writing on unregulated journalists faces! This agency, being non controversial, answers only to President’s Undersecretary of the table

  12. Most of us have become mistaken as to the purpose of the media. We tend to think that the product the media sells is advertising time. The actual product being sold is YOU, the viewer. This is why ratings matter & sensationalism rules.

    • Bingo. Think about all your “free” and “savings” services.

      Email
      Mobile apps
      Store “membership” discount cards
      Credit cards
      Internet browsers

      All this stuff and more are merely data mining tools by which corporations commodify, package, and sell consumers. Google is not the antiestablishment renegade you thought they were. Might as well be an arm of the nsa (Use duck duck go).

  13. There is an air of desperation in the mass media nowadays, and with good reason.

    Their business model is collapsing.

    In their desperation for paying customers, they are pandering to the ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ style. It’s just a happy coincidence that parallels their preferred political viewpoint.

    All the while, their profits continue to steadily plummet.

    I’m becoming more convinced this is *why* the NYT is going balls-to-the-wall on gun control. It’s giving them an (albiet, temporary) boost in their ratings, delaying their own death.

    Just hurry up and die, willya?

  14. ” It seems likely that the shooting was motivated by the media coverage given to mass shooters, especially school shootings, in the western world.”

    So is TTaG ready to stop showing the pictures and giving the names of these losers?

    Or at least, if naming the loser, to use the word “loser” in front of that name?

  15. If it bleeds it leads says your own RF

    Are you exempting this site from your win critique ? Changing internal views? That would be welcome

  16. Hang on just one hot minute. So now it’s not our fault, or the nra’s fault. It’s not the guns fault, or the fault of the person who supplied the gun. Your saying this time the media is to blame??? Well, lets see how comfortable they are swallowing the medicine their always trying to ram down our throats…

  17. Look up “Yellow Journalism”. It’s not new, it’s well and thriving. News is boring and not profitable unless it is “enhanced” by killings, blood, tragedy, sex, race, religion, etc., embellished with little fact and a lot of fantasy. “News Media” serves as a propaganda machine as well. Freedom of speech is easily made into a one way street.

  18. Pretty sure someone could hold the entire Country hostage with a single shot .22 while the ministry of hurt feelings and sensitivity was negotiating their release.

  19. Does anyone think that blaming the media is not dissimilar to blaming guns? The media may act as a catalyst, but these people already have hate and murder inside of them.

  20. Thank you Dean. “If it bleeds, it ledes” is the cynical but true saying about the news.
    I’ve bookmarked your post and link to “The Copycat Effect” for reference,
    to be dropped into comment forum at the next StateRunMedia report by the blood-dancers there.

    Its up to us POTG to change The Narrative, even if its only one other reader at a time.
    The good news is I see a slight but definite trend by some thoughtful writers to speak up about mental illness, and solutions that address the human being(s) responsible, rather than the inanimate tool used.

  21. Alex P is right on. But, for once it’s nice not being the sharp point of the spear… Nobodies fault but he who pulled the trigger.

  22. As for reporting a tragic event, maybe “RF” “truth about guns” also should not “Glorify” perps by constantly splashing the perps name and pictures, (as in past events) every time a dirtbag. performs a heinous act or event.
    Yes, the perps name will become known, but why does EVERY MEDIA source have to make the name and photos MORE prominent and burned into our mind, than the victims who are mostly overlooked.

    Bad people seek “GLORY” and “FAME” doing BAD things. Why give them that “GLORY” and “FAME ?????

    My hat is off to the Sheriff in Oregon after the Umqua College shooting, not utterly the sick bastards name.

    A Heinous Event can be reported, Just don’t make the perp
    FAMOUS!

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