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Is the media encouraging more mass shootings?

By releasing the video of the Navy Yard shooter, does the media encourage other potential mass shooters to seek out the same sort of notoriety? (AP Image)

When there is a mass shooting tragedy, the shooter – often taking their own life, is responsible for the terror. But are the media – us on the radio, news, and the many bloggers – are they culpable as well?

The idea is that mass shootings are a kind of theater, and the media allows for there to be an audience for this theater, explained KIRO Radio’s John Curley on the Tom & Curley Show.

Last week there was another school shooting, a shooting at a New Jersey mall, and both followed a shooting at the Los Angeles International Airport. These are cases where the motive is not political, like the say, the Tsarnaev brothers.

These shooters leave behind notes or manifestos, and most take their own life before they have a chance to face a judge and jury for their crime – they want complete control.

With this narcissistic perspective, news outlets may be giving them exactly what they want by sharing all of the details of their crime. Does that mean that they are motivated by what the media has to say? An editorial in the Wall Street Journal attempts to raise that question.

And John believes that if you can prove with certainty that media reports encourage more future mass killers to commit their crimes, then we should tell you, the reader less about shooter.

“If you believe the media really has their finger on the trigger, with the trigger finger of the shooter, then we have to take our finger off the trigger,” said John. “(Does it matter) how many bullets were fired? The car he drove? The picture of him in high school talking to his friend, talking to the neighbor that says that he’s a perfectly fine guy […] Really – we don’t need any of that.”

But Tom Tangney said some people will remain convinced that if we had fewer guns in this country then this kind of violence wouldn’t happen. “That’s another factor,” said Tom. “Where do we place the blame?”

As more public shootings occur, media outlets will continue to cover the events and try to make sense out of the tragedy. Because you, the reader, the watcher, the listener, pay attention to that kind of news.

But John’s not sure we should even do that. “We describe the whole thing as senseless, then we try to find motive for the whole thing.”

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