Local authorities are refusing to call the man behind the massacre at a small First Baptist Church by his name, instead choosing to only refer to him as “the shooter” during briefings. The intention is to avoid glorifying his name or crimes, and not to “encourage other people to do horrific acts” as a method of achieving fame.
The decision is a reflection of a broader effort to decrease the amount of sensationalism associated with covering the mass shooting and, hopefully, to avoid encouraging admirers from committing similar crimes.
“We do not want to glorify him and what he has done,” said Freeman Martin, the regional director of the Texas Department of Safety.
FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs echoed the sentiment, asserting, “We don’t talk about the shooter,” and saying they are avoiding giving any undue attention to the man so it “doesn’t encourage other people to do horrific acts.”
Many academics advocate for the approach as a way to avoid creating a sense of notoriety surrounding those who commit mass killings.
North Carolina University professor Zeynep Tufekci has recommended avoiding the repetitive use of the names and faces of those who participate in crimes such as the shooting at the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church, saying that would-be mass killers often closely follow the coverage and become focused on the notoriety they receive.
Tufekci stated in an email, “It’s past time that we considered less sensationalist ways of covering mass shootings, and reported such grim news without plastering the killer’s name and face everywhere.”
The recommendation does not necessarily apply to initial reporting, where details about the crime are just being revealed.
Others have also advocated for change in how the media reports mass killings. No Notoriety, a digital campaign that works to discourage the glorification of mass shooters, was started by Caren and Tom Teves after their son, Alex, was killed during a mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. The group uses memes to discourage the practice of using the killer’s name and face.
One such social media post was created by the digital campaign after the events in Sutherland Springs. It features a modified picture of the shooters face and the statement, “Stop making rampage mass murders famous.”
No Notoriety hopes to encourage the media to “focus on victims & heroes – not their killers.”
h/t Daily Caller