prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

#NoNotoriety for Killers

Posted by prof e on October 13, 2015

You may have seen the hashtag #NoNotoriety in response to the latest mass killing at the community college in Oregon. The idea has plenty of support from well-meaning and thoughtful people who want the violence to stop. If only, they argue, the perpetrators could be banished from the front page and forced out of the limelight. Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple. Yes, media coverage likely contributes to copy-cat killings. But media coverage contributes to lots of things, good and bad.

What is a realistic alternative? Are we going to selectively decide to cover some stories when we think it will lead to positive outcomes and not cover other stories when we have reason to suspect that readers/viewers/listeners will  take the information and use it inappropriately? The dictionary definition of “slippery slope” might as well use this scenario to illustrate the concept.

Steve Henson, CSU-Pueblo Mass Communications alumnus, editor of the Pueblo Chieftain, and guest speaker to our class last week, wrote a column recently addressing this very issue. You can read it here. In his column Mr. Henson lays out his argument for why the Chieftain will not refrain from naming killers. Henson argues that more information, not less, is likely to help us prevent future instances like these. What do you think?

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12 Responses to “#NoNotoriety for Killers”

  1. Ceresa Kennedy said

    I feel that not publishing the name or picture of the perpetrator is a well-meant yet simplistic reaction to horrific criminal acts, namely school shootings. In theory, I agree that the shooter’s identity isn’t as important as the crime committed, however, simply not publishing a name isn’t going to make a great difference. The problem is far more complex than a simple desire for notoriety. I choose to believe that the psyche of the shooters must go deeper, if not, the shallow disregard for life is chilling. The answers to gun violence doesn’t lie in banning guns or in not identifying criminals publically but rather searching for the root cause. There have certainly been a growing number of mentally disturbed individuals committing fatal attacks, we as a society need to identify behaviors that put kids at risk for inflamed violence and develop real treatments, not just questionable medication, that would let these kids re-enter mainstream society. I have no idea how to go about doing this but I do know it’s not as simple as no notoriety.

  2. Avery Lewis said

    I somewhat agree and disagree with this #NoNotoriety issue. I feel that while the name of the perpetrator isn’t very essential to the story, if someone is going to kill people for the attention factor it won’t matter that names aren’t included. Running the story at all will satisfy the killer’s want for the public attention, even if names aren’t included. At the same time, naming the criminal can lead to more attention and intrigue others to do similar. This can get very controversial and very opinion-driven, but it shouldn’t be. The issue of putting the name of a criminal in the newspaper shouldn’t cause such concern and require columns to be written about such topic. I agree with Henson from the Chieftain that more information is overall better.

  3. Ivonne Colin said

    The increase in school shootings in the last century have impacted various many aspects of life. The media has been one of the major outlets of news for when a tragic events like a massive shooting happens. There is a huge controversy with the media and shootings that continues to be problematic, although without the media there would be no way of people having the facts and information for the tragedy. Yet, due to media providing the information more people become aware and create their own opinions and sometimes those opinions become motivations which turn into actions. I don’t necessarily agree with the way that the media announces the school shootings, it’s a tragic event which becomes glorified. I personally feel that the media takes advantage of the event for attention and to gain more public attention, in a sense they glorify the killer and give him the satisfaction of being known by first and last name nation wide. People work their whole entire lives for people to acknowledge them worldwide, and according to the media you can commit a crime and become famous.

  4. Tracey Williams said

    Yes, I agree with the #NoNotoriety for killers. This is because most of the perpetrators have some type of a mental illness and they are wanting their thirty seconds of fame. If the media puts the perpetrator’s name out there they got what they wanted which is for people to know who they are and that people will never forget them. Why should we give the perpetrator the fame and keep talking about it when that is all they want and they don’t care who they hurt as long as their name gets out on the media. Putting the perpetrators name out on the media will keep having people go to the article or the video clip and the perpetrator will always be getting hits and will be known for what they did.

  5. Matthew Terry said

    Unfortunately, there is not a realistic approach to the situation. It seems for the better to keep these kind of stories out of the media and from the front pages of our newspapers. If we did that it would be argued that it would infringe on our first amendment rights. It is clearly wrong what these mass shooters are doing and is a travesty to humanity, but does removing their name from news media going to solve the problem? Even before mass media became such a huge part of our lives thousands of people died everyday from shootings, stabbings, drug abuse, child abuse , drunk driving etc… we still do not hear about those stories every night on the 6:00 P.M. news; moreover, these types of incidents are happening every single day. Removing a name and picture from media solves nothing… this issue of mass shootings is much deeper than removing it from the media.

  6. Nathanael McIntyre said

    I am somewhat neutral to #NoNotoriety for killers. Even if the media cut off the stories, apparently that still would not stop them because there were always many terrible acts of mass killing probably even before there was even print media. The article says “We Must Study the Shooters, Not Ignore Them.” We do not necessarily need to study them because we already know many reasons why the shooters do these things. However, we should not ignore them either or completely erase these events from memory. Perhaps we should simply refrain from the name of the killer being posted and just say that a mass killing has happened and show the names of the people who died and barely even mentioning the killer himself.

  7. I think not naming the perpetrators in mass media is a good idea because then it keeps them from getting attention and gives all the attention to the victims and their families. The media can cove the incident without naming the perpetrators. I can see how giving more information can be bad because it can lead to copy-cat killings and people learning from their mistakes but it can be good because we can learn how to better percent these mass killings. The reality is though that we cannot tell the press to not name the criminals or even tell them to only cover so much of an event or not to cover it at all because it takes aways from their right as freedom of the press. The press cannot just cover the good stories because the public deserves to know about events with good and bad out comes so that we can learn from the bad out comes to protect our selves and prevent future instances.

  8. Rachel Nicolson said

    I think that naming a killer is not necessary. Yes address the situation and give it recognition, but giving name to the killer is giving them attention they don’t deserve. The name should remain in police and court hands rather than in the public news, and newspapers.

  9. Chelsea Frantz said

    I have seen #NoNotoriety and I support it. I believe the shootings should stop completely! It is sick how people want their 15 seconds of fame. We should cover stories that have good and bad endings to figure them out. I agree with the Pueblo Chieftain about adding the killer’s name and add more information to possibly stop the killings for good.

  10. Dashon King said

    Although I can completely understand why people do not want murderers’ names published because they think this will glorify them, I do not think that not publishing the name will necessarily change the outcome. I know that survivors of the deceased feel like publishing the name of the person that killed their loved one puts the focus on the criminal that did the killing instead of focusing on the person that was innocently killed which is not right.
    However, I also think it is the role of news reporters to report the information and what happened which includes all the details of all parties involved which includes the murderer and those that were killed. The public has the right to know this information and know the details behind what happened. I think if it isn’t published or shared then people will fill in the missing information making up what they think happened. In this case it is always better to share the truth.
    I think this is an issue right now because of all the latest school shootings and the nation is at a loss as to what to do to prevent it. It is becoming too common and close to everyone. Since no one seems to know what to do, people like to place blame. That is why people have moved to blame the media and say that by publishing these shooters’ names, the media is causing more violence. Having someone to blame or having a reason these events are occurring makes people feel better.
    I really think that instead of blame the media, we as a nation need to really address this issue. I know there are debates right now about gun rights and if that’s to blame. However, other countries have just as many guns and aren’t killing others in schools and movie theaters. I think we need to do an in depth research study on what is happening and making these people become violent. In addition, as a nation we need to offer more support and education regarding mental health. Prevention is the best defense and it is obvious with the latest events we as a nation need more mental health support. We can’t blame the media or gun control laws, we need to own this problem and address it with education and mental health services.

  11. Makayla Miller said

    Naming the killer or not naming the killer can be debated…I understand the good intentions of not naming the killer to prevent copycat killings and negative fame. However, I do feel that people need to be informed on whats going on around them. By discussing the horrific killings in the news, we can learn from history to be better prepared. Somehow we haven’t figured out how to do that yet. similar to Henson’s article, I think that the killer should be studied to find a reason for their rage. Maybe there is something in their past that others could have helped prevent and save their lfe as well as others. I am in no way defending the murderers or their actions, I’m just saying that they are also people who need help just like the rest of us.

  12. Tatum Maestas-Hall said

    A mass killing at a community college in Oregon caused people to respond with the hashtag #NoNotoriety in an attempt to stop violence. Media convergence sometimes results in copy-cat killings. Steve Henson, an editor for The Pueblo Chieftain, argues that giving readers more information is better than leaving out information. In the future, providing readers with more information will most likely lead to preventing situations similar to the mass killing. According to page 70 of the textbook, there is “objectivity in modern journalism,” and during the mid-1800s, newspapers would not take sides on the front pages and would state the facts. Then, the readers would have to “interpret the facts’ implications” (Campbell et al., 2013, p. 70). Similarly, in current newspapers, the amount of information that they consist of is dependent upon those who write the articles and use their best judgment to decide how much information they should give the readers. From that point, it is up to the reader to interpret and decipher the newspaper’s content.

    Campbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, Bettina Fabos, and Jimmie L. Reeves. Media Essentials: A Brief Introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.

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