America has entered a new age of mass shootings. Every few weeks—or hours, in the case of El Paso and Dayton—a young man with a gun commits an atrocity. And every time it happens, news media are there to relentlessly cover the aftermath. Each new detail—a killer’s name, a photograph—becomes a prize in the frenzied effort to obtain and confirm the next.
We do this, in part, because it’s our job. The public wants to know what happened and why. They want to know more about the person capable of carrying out such a heinous act. As journalists, we try to meet our audiences’ needs for information. And with competition for attention so intense, we’re reluctant to forego even the smallest developments in a big, breaking story.
But our approach also stems from the fact that the news industry hasn’t seriously reckoned with its responsibility to cover mass shootings with the discretion they require. If we don’t change that soon, we risk further contributing to the uniquely American crisis of mass killings.
Research increasingly tells us that our coverage of mass shootings has implications for public health. Shooters crave attention and infamy; several modern killers have idolized and sought out information about those who came before them. One murderer mailed videos and documents to a national news station, knowing that the materials would be publicized. Another kept a spreadsheet in which he compared body counts from previous high-profile
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/mass-shooting-contagion-guidelines-the-trace.php