This Video Shows the Controversy Over How the Media Covers Shootings

October 5th 2015

Thor Benson

A video that recently went viral shows some of the controversy over how the media should cover mass shootings. In the video, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin is explaining some of the details of the Umpqua Community College shooting, but he refuses to name the shooter because he "will not give him the credit he probably sought." The video then cuts to a CNN anchor, who immediately names the shooter and starts speculating about their personality and life. This article will not include the shooter's name.

RELATED: President Obama's Reaction to the Oregon Shooting Is Worth Your Praise

"In just minutes, CNN goes from showing the wishes of the local sheriff/community to not release the shooter's name, to releasing the shooter's name, to reading a post he made in which he says, '[It] seems the more people you kill, the more you're in the limelight.' WTF, CNN," reads the description below the video.


TV news coverage of mass shootings must change.

Posted by ATTN: on Friday, October 2, 2015

RELATED: Why the U.S Has the Worst Mass Shooting Problem in the World

The media has struggled with this issue before during coverage of previous mass shootings. As President Barack Obama said in an emotional speech on Thursday, this conversation has become "routine," and little has changed.

This is the 15th time Pres. Obama has made a statement on mass shootings during his presidency.

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, October 1, 2015

Is it necessary to know the shooter's name?

Does it turn them into some kind of icon? Do we need to know about their life? In the case of the Charleston shooting, where a white supremacist shot and killed nine people in a historically Black church, it seemed important to include the shooter's past and motives. After all, it was considered a hate crime by most. However, people argue that often when other shootings happen because someone is mentally ill or mad at society, then it might be less necessary to name the shooter or talk about their opinions.

In a Reddit thread about the viral video, many express the idea that the shooting needs to be news, since many people died, but saying the name of the shooter and showing pictures of him isn't necessary. As long as the public has an idea of why this happened, if that is possible, we can at least have a conversation about how to prevent these type of tragedies from happening in the future.

While CNN and the rest of the media are obligated to give us all of the facts they can that might be useful, many argue that naming some person who killed many people is not useful information. Many are concerned that the more we elevate the status of these people, the more likely it is we will witness more mass shootings. (These are often called copycat murders.) You can imagine a news report that says the "shooter" was this age, from this background and this ideology would suffice, without presenting their Facebook photos and their name. When you make a crime look appear to be a shortcut to fame, you might see an increase in this type of violence.

RELATED: President Obama Asked Us to Compare Gun Deaths to Deaths From Terrorism. Here It Is.

BREAKING: Shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon

One student reportedly tweeted live on campus about the school shooting at Umpqua Community College.

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, October 1, 2015