Editorial: Leave mass shooters anonymous

North Wind Staff

In September 2014, the FBI released a memorandum to all major news organizations urging them to take a different approach to their coverage of mass shootings by focusing less attention on the identity and motivations of the shooter.re-NWLogoSocialMedia

Called the “Don’t Name Them” campaign, the call for change was inspired in part by a study from Texas State University which found most of the recent mass shootings were motivated in part by  the idea of fame and were inspired by the actions of prior mass shooters.

This motivation is known scientifically as the “contagion effect” and is blamed largely on the media’s sensationalized coverage of said mass shootings and the people who perpetrate them. Case in point, including the middle name of the shooter to make it sound more ominous—cue Lee Harvey Oswald.

Instead, the campaign calls for more focus on the victims, those who survived, or those who played a heroic role in the event to draw attention away from the “why” behind what happened, which often gives the shooters a voice and validates his/her purpose.

In spite of the campaign being active for more than a year, the events that happened at a community college in Oregon last week drew the same enormous response from the media as always, with the shooter’s family being featured on television as well as the publishment of the method in which he selected his victims, along with his political views.

The North Wind was unaware of the “Don’t Name Them” campaign until only recently, but it comes as no surprise to us that it would have fallen below the radar in the mainstream media, where clicks and views are apparently more important than a proactive approach to a problem that only seems to be worsening in this country.

We stand behind the “Don’t Name Them” campaign and have vowed not to include any information about the shooter in this editorial or in any future pieces. Instead, we will close this article with a bit about the 30-year-old student and U.S. Army veteran who charged the shooter in a selfless attempt to protect his classmates.

The student, Chris Mintz, told the class to remain calm while barring the door shut with his bodyweight to keep the shooter from entering. He was wounded half a dozen times in the process, but lived to tell his story—a story worth more than anything we could have said about the shooter.