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Tucson profiles the next shooter celebrity

Post by Brian O'Neill on Jan. 10, 2011 at 10:11 am |
January 10, 2011 10:11 am

Another big shooting. Another murderer-celebrity.

In both Sunday and Monday’s print paper, the picture of the Tucson shooter was front and center. Both times it was slightly larger than that of the most prominent victim, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Which brings up a question that always occurs to me in the aftermath of violent shootings–should the media profile the shooter?

I ask this question because the reaction of print and television journalism is not removed from the process, as we would like to believe. It is part of it. As scientists have learned, insinuating any observer into a laboratory experiment will alter the results. Anecdotally, the same occurs in our society.

In the weeks and months following the Lakewood police murders, the notifications of dangerous subjects making direct threats to harm or kill police officers skyrocketed. Some were very specific in their word choice. “It’s going to be worse than what (I refuse to glorify the killer by naming him) did in Lakewood.” Or Seattle. Or Pierce County.

We are choosing to wallow in the twisted lives of these violent people, but we must recognize that there could be a cost.  Are we willing to immerse ourselves in this exploitation at the risk of encouraging the next mass killer in search of good press?

It’s not a good idea.

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