Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (a wholly owned subsidiary of Mayors Against Illegal Guns) has published an open letter to the Presidents of ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News. The missive (after the jump) calls on Manhattan’s media mavens to refer to “mass shooters” as “the killer who shall not be named” or some such thing. It also demands that they refrain from publishing photos that “glamorize” or “aggrandize the shooter.” Oh, that’s what they want to call killers like Adam Lanza, James Holmes and Seung-Hui Cho. But what if the mass killer uses a pressure cooker? Anyway, MDA also wants the news nets to refrain from airing “self-serving statements by the shooter.” Giving mass killers the Voldemort treatment is unnecessary (killers gotta kill) and self-censoring (truth tellers gotta tell). It’s all about context. Put aside the obvious stupidity of an anti-gun group telling the nets how to wave the bloody shirt. Is MDA right? . . . [h/t M.B.]
COVER MASS SHOOTERS LIKE MURDERERS, NOT CELEBRITIES
TO: BEN SHERWOOD, PRESIDENT OF ABC NEWS; DAVID RHODES, PRESIDENT OF CBS NEWS; DEBORAH TURNESS, PRESIDENT OF NBC NEWS; JEFF ZUCKER, PRESIDENT OF CNN WORLDWIDE; AND ROGER AILES, PRESIDENT OF FOX NEWS
We call on your media outlets to treat mass shooters as murderers seeking notoriety, not as celebrities. Specifically, we ask you to immediately enact a policy to follow these guidelines when covering mass shootings:
– Do not use the name of the shooter, except when necessary in initial identification or to aid in apprehension of a suspect still at large.
– Do not publish photos that glamorize or aggrandize the shooter.
– Do not air self-serving statements made by the shooter.
Why is this important?
Mass shootings have become all-too common occurrences in the United States. So has the tendency of the news media to focus its attention on the perpetrator of the crimes, often blanketing coverage with the shooter’s name, image and biography in unnecessarily exhaustive and sensational detail. I’ve joined with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to start this petition and challenge the major news networks to change this practice.
I am intimately familiar with this disturbing trend, because on because on July 20, 2012, my son Alex was one of twelve people murdered when a gunman opened fire on a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Since that terrible day, I have learned that there is evidence that intense media coverage may serve as a motivating factor for others who seek this twisted kind of celebrity. The perpetrators of the atrocities in Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Newtown and others appear to have paid close attention to media coverage of previous mass shootings.
Ironically, as recently as last month, the media again displayed its tendency to enshrine a mass shooter in infamy. When the police report about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary was released, major news outlets released story after story with sensational but irrelevant details about the murderer.
News outlets should not reward these killers with the attention they crave—whether they are still living or deceased. More important, if the promise of infamy plays any role, no matter how small, in the motivation of such crimes, it is incumbent upon the news media to eliminate the source of that motivation.
Like too many parents in this country, my husband Tom and I grieve our son every day. Nothing can change the tragedy that took away Alex and eleven other innocent victims. But media outlets can change the way they cover the perpetrators of such heinous crimes, and take steps that would potentially remove one motivating factor in future tragedies.
It is time for corporations to act with responsibility. Although Congress failed to act last year on laws that could have made Americans safer from gun violence, the leaders of corporate America can stand up for the public interest by taking steps like this.
Please join Moms Demand Action and me in asking the heads of the major news networks to institute guidelines that would deny mass shooters the opportunity to achieve a perverse celebrity status and would keep their names and faces out of the news.