Is The Media Encouraging Copycat School Shootings?
In the last 2 years there were a tragic amount of mass shootings in the US. That feels weird to say because 1 is a tragic amount, but in 2011 and 2012 there were 11, which is insane.
It always seems that these shootings happen in strings. 11 mass shootings in 2 years is a 175% increase over the prior 5 years, in which there was an average of 2 mass shootings per year in the US. In 2000-2001 there was similar string of mass shootings. 2013 isn't starting out too great either, with another school shooting occurring just yesterday.
Why do these mass shooting trends occur?
There are a number of ingredients that come together to create a mass murderer, but the largest factor is the media. The media turns monsters into celebrities by naming the murderers, showing pictures of them, sometimes even reading messages the murderers left, and the media needs to stop doing this immediately. This is because--while the rest of the population reacts with regret and repulsion--a small, dangerous segment takes it as a cue for action.
There is evidence that the media contributes to copycat mass murders. James Fox, a criminologist who focuses on mass murders said in an interview:
. . . back in the 1980s when we had the string of postal shootings, there were a couple who spoke or wrote about other postal rampages that had preceded their own. Also, take the case of Jamie Wilson of South Carolina. He was a big fan of Laurie Dann (a school shooter in Winetka, Illinois). He talked about her all the time, had clippings about her case.
The media highlights the murderers for most us to hate, but for a disturbed minority to idolize. The dissemination of this kind of information does not seem worth the trade-off that will be the next mass shooting. Do you think "all the news that's fit to print" includes details about the murderer?