Two days ago, the Columbia Journalism Review published this piece that Miles Kohrman of The Trace and I wrote to draw attention to a really important effort: getting news organizations to work together to create guidelines for responsible coverage of mass shootings. There’s been some progress on this. This little coalition that Miles and I are part of has seen some news organizations showing restraint in their use of the name, image, writings, etc., of mass killers. But there’s still way too much useless coverage, and not enough of the right kind (stories about the victims, the first responders, the guns, etc.).
When you feel hopeless and helpless about this scourge of mass shootings and how little is being done to prevent them, consider this: If you are a journalist, you can start a conversation in your newsroom about the journalism you’ve done and could do around mass shootings. You could look at the abundant research we link to in that CJR piece and give it some thought. You could get involved by filling out the form at the bottom of that CJR piece.
If you’re not a journalist, you could vote with your feet (your eyeballs, actually). In other words, turn away from coverage that sensationalizes the killer. Give positive feedback to news organizations that are minimizing the use of the killer’s name, image and “manifestos”. Be a responsible consumer of the news.