We already know that mass shootings are contageous. After a shooting which results in at least 4 deaths per incident, the chances of another shooting rises 20-30% for the next 13 days.
The media’s obsession with milking these tragedies for every ad dollar they can generate contributes to a perpetual cycle.
A study from August of 2016 provides some very interesting insight into the media’s reporting habits of mass shootings. In short, the media’s heavy-handed news cycle covering mass shootings to an extreme creates more mass shooters. This isn’t even the only study coming to these types of conclusions.
“We suggest that the media cry to cling to ‘the public’s right to know’ covers up a greedier agenda to keep eyeballs glued to screens, since they know that frightening homicides are their No. 1 ratings and advertising boosters.” -Jennifer B. Johnston, PhD, of Western New Mexico University
The age-old saying, “if it bleeds, it leads” holds very true, even today. It has gotten so bad that these vultures (I’m sorry, “reporters”) are shoving microphones in the faces of kids who just saw their friends die before the bodies are even cold. Fear and death keeps viewers glued to the news, generating ad revenue. This pursuit of ad revenue has caused news agencies to maximize the amount of fearmongering in order to generate ad revenue.
A more recent study on mass shootings puts the blame of 55% of recent mass shootings on the reporting habits of the media.
A change in reporting technique could save lives
If the news agencies adjusted their reporting, there could be a drastic reduction in the number of mass shootings. The media doesn’t need to hide them and pretend they don’t exist – they simply need to adjust how they report on these events.
“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,” she said. “Even conservatively, if the calculations of contagion modelers are correct, we should see at least a one-third reduction in shootings if the contagion is removed.” -Jennifer B. Johnston, PhD, of Western New Mexico University
The link between media coverage and mass shootings is very clear. The media is directly responsible for some of America’s mass shootings. Are they responsible entirely? Of course not. But people would still be alive today if the media would just put the lives of American citizens above ad revenue.
The media has changed in the past, they can do it again
In the 90s, a link between media coverage of celebrity suicides and overall suicide rates was found. After the media adjusted their reporting habits, celebrity suicide related suicides droppped. The media has adjusted their reporting habits to save lives in the past, they can do it again.
Call out the media for their un-ethical reporting habits
Any time you see a news source parading around the name and face of a mass shooter, call them out on it on social media. If we can flood the media’s social media telling them they are creating a cycle of mass shootings, maybe we can get them to take notice and adjust how they report on these events to save lives.