Don't sensationalize the names of the shooters in briefings – or in reporting about active attack events.
It is journalistically routine to name the killer. It’s public record and it is important to use their names and likenesses to apprehend them and bring them to justice. However, once they are captured, it’s really no longer a part of the story, other than to create a call to action for a like-minded killer to take their plans and thoughts and make them into deeds.
Sociologists and criminologists should study the criminal – but let’s not glorify the attacker by giving them valuable airtime. Don’t share their manifestos, their letters, their Facebook posts. Be above the sensationalism. Tell the real stories – the stories of the victims, the heroes and the communities who come together to help the families heal.
Active shooter research data shows the increase in these events. By encouraging the media to focus less on the suspects and more on the victims, it is hoped that future events can be prevented.
The Don't Name Them campaign is a coordinated effort by the ALERRT Center at Texas State University, the I Love U Guys Foundation (founded by John-Michael and Ellen Keyes), and the FBI.
Family members of the victims of the Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting have also challenging media and public information officers to not name the shooters through their "No Notoriety" campaign.
The focus of the campaign is to shift the media focus from the suspects who commit these acts to the victims, survivors, and heroes who stop them.
• Some suspects are motivated by a desire for fame, notoriety, and/or recognition.
• When the media focuses on the attacker, they provide this fame, notoriety and recognition.
• This focus allows the attacker to accomplish one of their goals, and validates their life and actions.
• Media coverage can create a contagion effect producing more shootings.
• Some shootings/attacks may be prevented by removing one of the incentives.
• We encourage the media and others not to name the suspects or focus on their lives.
• The shooters/attackers should be as unrecognized in their deaths as they were in their lives.
• Media coverage should focus on the victims and the heroes.
The "Contagion Effect"
Sherry Towers, a physicist at Arizona State University has studied the contagion effect of mass shootings.
Read more of her interview here : https://asunews.asu.edu/20151005-contagion-effect-mass-shootings
Q: What is the news media’s role in this? Do they push up the numbers?
A: It appears that yes, national media coverage does end up increasing the frequency of these tragedies. However, the U.S. Constitution ensures freedom of the press ... we cannot legislate restrictions on the press to avoid this. It has to be a voluntary move. In fact, most press agencies will not report on suicides for exactly this reason ... suicides have been shown to be contagious. The sheriff in Oregon made the decision not to mention the killer's name. Perhaps his choice will be the beginning of a larger national conversation on how we can choose (or choose not) to cover these events.
Think about it...
The Don't Name Them campaign encourages media, law enforcement and public information officers to move their focus from the shooters/attackers to the victims and heroes.
Take this quick test --
Do you remember the University of Texas Tower Shooting in Austin, Texas in 1966?
How about the Columbine High School Shooting in Littleton, Colorado in 1999?
Virginia Tech Shooting in Blacksburg, Virginia in 2007?
Or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012?
Can you name the shooter(s) in any of these instances?
In any group we speak with, someone can name the shooters.
But few, if any, can name even one of the victims - or the heroes who stopped the killings.
The University of Texas Tower - Austin, TX
Some shooters/attackers are motivated by a desire for fame, notoriety, and/or recognition. When the media focuses on the suspect, they provide this fame, notoriety and recognition. Time and again, families of victims have plead with media to stop sensationalizing the names of the shooters. In many cases, their voices are heard.
Don'tNameThem.org kicks off a media campaign to encourage the press to focus on the victims and the heroes. The suspects should be as unrecognized in their deaths as they were in their lives.
We will provide subject matter experts ranging from behavioral analysts to researchers, to responders and survivors, and most importantly, effective story lines that will help the healing begin - in your community, in your schools, churches, and businesses, and in your homes.
Simple. Honest. Important. Effective.
What You Do Matters.
• Encourage law enforcement and other agencies/organizations to sign on.
• Recognize the media outlets that step up to this effort. Encourage their decisions to not sensationalize the tragedy.
• Create a general media announcement to get the word out.
• Have individuals sign petitions encouraging media outlets to move their focus from the suspects to the victims and the heroes.
• Develop a message that anyone can send to the media in the wake of a shooting/active attack.
• Develop letters to the editor and other materials that can be sent to media outlets by individuals.