Inspiring Copycat Crimes

In 2009, in the wake of the Winnenden school shooting in Germany that killed 15, Charlie Brooker reminded us of the mechanics of the mainstream press in such tragic days by quoting Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz. “We’ve had 20 years of mass murders throughout which I have repeatedly told CNN and our other media, if you don’t want to propagate more mass murders, don’t start the story with sirens blaring. Don’t have photographs of the killer. Don’t make this 24/7 coverage. Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story, not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero. Do localize the story to the affected community and make it as boring as possible in every other market. Because every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more within a week.” 2009 was a long time ago, and there have been so many mass shootings since that the Brooker clip and Dietz’s quote have sadly become regular rebukes. Will news networks and newspapers ever take it upon themselves to heed the words of the experts, or does the need to sensationalize for ratings and hits make larger societal considerations laughably quaint?

PS. If you think wall to wall coverage of this kind of carnage is a sickness exclusive to the American media, the British are just as bad, and so are we. The screenshots after the jump are from Vancouver’s mainstream media, taken this afternoon…

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