Experts to Media: Stop Naming Mass Shooters

'They want to be celebrities'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2017 6:54 PM CDT
Experts to Media: Stop Naming Mass Shooters
Allison Easterbrooks pauses at a memorial for the people killed in Sunday's mass shooting on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

After a mass shooting, their names and faces are plastered on every news site, the front page of every newspaper, and every cable news channel. But more than 140 experts—professors, scholars, law-enforcement professionals, and more—say it's time for the media to stop identifying these killers, Newsweek reports. "All of us agree that it is important to stop giving fame-seeking mass shooters the personal attention they want," the experts say in a signed letter following the death of 59 people in Las Vegas. According to Live Science, the letter states journalists should report all other details of a mass shooting, but "the particular sequence of letters that make up offenders' names, and the particular configuration of bones, cartilage and flesh that make up offenders' faces are among the least newsworthy details about them."

Adam Lankford, a professor of criminology at the University of Alabama, was one of the drafters of the letter. He cites research that shows many mass shooters are motivated by fame and that killers who admit to seeking celebrity kill twice as many people. "They want to be celebrities," Lankford says. The letter states journalists can and should still report details about the killers' lives and interview their friends and family. And the letter admits that there are some extenuating circumstances when a killer should be named and have their photo shared, such as if they are still on the loose. The letter sent to media in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting is far from the first time such an argument has been made after a mass killing. (More mass shootings stories.)

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