Nov. 10, 2015  

SPJ Florida President Moderates Panel on Mass Shootings

name mass murders in mass shootings“I’m not a journalist but last time I checked, you’re supposed to check the facts. It seems like the facts don’t matter anymore.”

That’s from Tom Teves, one of the founders of No Notoriety. He, his wife Caren, and Anita Busch spoke for the organization last month at the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention in Austin.

The Teves lost their son, Alex, in the Aurora, CO theater shooting. On July 20, 2012, 12 people died and the Teves found out about their son’s death while on vacation in Hawaii. Following the media coverage of the shooting, the Teves founded No Notoriety, a movement to encourage the media to report less on the shooter and more on the victims, demographics, and other details without obsessively showcasing the murderer.

On Oct. 30, SPJ Florida President Dori Zinn moderated a panel at the ACP/CMA convention where Tom, Caren, Anita and Candace Baltz from Oregon State University discussed how the media has a direct impact on the fame of shooters in mass murders. The chapter also unanimously voted to give $200 toward traveling to Austin to help alleviate the costs. The full video is below.

A recent study from Arizona State University states that nearly 30 percent of mass shootings happen out of inspiration from other mass murders. Many shooters have cited previous mass murders in suicide notes, manifestos, and other writings made public by the media.

“As an industry, we do a good job of questioning everyone and everything, as a responsible and ethical industry we have a responsibility to question ourselves,” said Baltz, the director of Orange Media Network at OSU, during the panel discussion. “There is so much more in ‘who’ than a name. We can still cover this without giving them notoriety.”

OSU is just 100 miles away from Umpqua Community College, where a campus shooting happened on October 1. Immediately following the murders, Sheriff John Hanlin of Douglas County refused to name the shooter. It’s these acts that No Notoriety is looking for: you can give details about the shooter, and you can even name the shooter, but do you need to name the shooter more than once?

“Instead of the rush to get the information out, I want us, as an industry, to go ‘what are the ramifications for releasing it?’ and ‘how can we be thoughtful when we release that information?’” said Baltz.

It really comes down to the media’s quest for the top spot.

“There’s a race to be first and put up the most lurid photos,” said Anita Busch. “The race to be first shouldn’t be a race to the bottom.”

Currently, broadcast journalists Anderson Cooper from CNN and Megyn Kelly from Fox News have taken the No Notoriety challenge in lessening their coverage of shooters in mass killings.

“It doesn’t take an act of Congress, it takes an act of conscious,” Tom said. “You’re supposed to be the mirror to help society heal itself. When you start to become part of that madness, we don’t have a lot of hope.”

Do you think journalists should take an active stance against repeatedly naming and featuring images of shooters in mass murders? Watch the video above, visit the mission of No Notoriety, and let us know what you think.

1 Comment

  • Celia C Caldwell says:

    I agree that giving notoriety to murderers encourages other people who are not successful in their own lives to look for ways to get notoriety. It makes sense to give more coverage to the victims and only minium coverage to the perpetrators. We care about the victims. We are only curious about perpetrators and their motives. So less about them is better.

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