Will the Media Ever Stop Publicizing Mass Shooters?

Last Wednesday, several days after the massacre in Orlando, a reader wrote:

I think Notes is the best place to vent my frustration. Dear Media:

Please stop publishing pictures of the Pulse shooter. Whether or not martyrdom was part of his mindset, constantly referring to him by name and publishing his picture creates infamy where there should be none. Relentlessly publishing photos of the shooter (even worse, selfies), he becomes more important than the victims. It iconifies him, and if he did indeed do this act in the name of Allah, it reinforces him as a martyr by giving him more of an identity than the victims. I think he deserves to be stripped of an identity.

On that count, the homepage of The New York Times did a commendable job:

Here’s a novel thought from a reader: “Perhaps we could name the perpetrators of mass shootings in a manner similar to the naming of hurricanes. Instead of names, real or made-up, we could use a series of number/letter combinations to refer to the gunmen.”

Another reader, Jamie, has also been frustrated with media coverage of the Pulse shooter:

Given the resurgence in public interest in the phenomenon of mass shootings following the tragic events in Orlando, there’s one factor that seems to be overlooked—specifically, how the modern media landscape inspires copycat killers. The Atlantic has previously ran several excellent articles on the subject, including “Are Mass Shootings Contagious?” and “The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders. Here’s How.

I am personally of the opinion that this is the single most persuasive explanation for the increase in mass shootings.