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Is The Media Perpetuating Mass Shootings?

NRA representatives said, "The media loves mass shootings." But is there a link between media coverage and mass shootings?
Posted at 7:12 PM, Feb 23, 2018

At the Conservative Political Action Conference, the NRA blamed the media for taking advantage of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. NRA spokespersonDana Loesch said,"Many in legacy media love mass shootings." She clarified by saying, "I'm not saying that you love the tragedy, but I am saying that you love the ratings … crying white mothers to you are ratings gold." 

This prompted an expected response from anchors and reporters like German Lopez from Vox. He said: "Reporters like me would love to never cover another mass shooting again. If only we could." Alisyn Camerota from CNN said: "They are not ratings gold, because Americans have reached saturation levels. They are so sick of it. It's so heartbreaking."

The media has to report on mass shootings because they impact America's health and safety. But the media isn't entirely blameless. One study says mass shootings are contagious and can lead to copycat killers — this is where the media plays a part. One of the frequent driving forces of mass shooters is achieving fame.

Psychologist Jennifer B. Johnston says fame hungry mass shooters have skyrocketed since the mid 1990s, partly due to the 24-hour news cycle. She adds: "If the mass media and social media enthusiasts make a pact to no longer share, reproduce or retweet the names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers, we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in one to two years."

Not covering the shooting is out of the question, but some outlets — like Newsy — have made it a point to only use the name of the shooter when they're initially identified.