Texas Authorities: You Won't Hear Us Speak Gunman's Name

It reflects wider movement to keep the victims at the forefront, suspects from being glorified
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2017 8:06 AM CST
Texas Authorities: You Won't Hear Us Speak Gunman's Name
Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin provides information to the media about the fatal shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Monday.   (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

The shooter's name went unspoken at a news conference on the killings at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and authorities there say they intend to keep refraining from saying it. "We do not want to glorify him and what he has done," Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said at the Monday briefing, per the AP. FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs agreed, saying, "We don't talk about the shooter" in the hope that it "doesn't encourage other people to do horrific acts." That choice reflects a larger movement of authorities, victims' families, and academics who want to deny mass killers the fame they often seek, and to keep from inspiring the next one. The message: Don't hide information, but don't hype it. Report the name of a shooter when it's first released, then leave it out.

The movement was created by No Notoriety, a group that spreads simple, meme-friendly ideas. "Focus on victims and heroes—not their killers!" one post said. Caren and Tom Teves, whose son, Alex, was killed in the 2012 Aurora shooting, started the group. While immediate provocations for shooters differ—Texas authorities say the latest may have been spurred by a domestic violence situation—most seek the same kind of attention. UNC professor Zeynep Tufekci has repeatedly urged outlets to avoid repetition of killers' names and faces and steer clear of step-by-step discussions of their methods. "It's past time that we considered less sensationalist ways of covering mass shootings," she says, adding media outlets already are cautious in what they report on suicides for fear of inspiring copycats. Doing the same for mass shooters would be "sound editorial policy, not censorship."

(More Texas mass shooting stories.)

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