Jim Gray: Media Should Show More Responsibility in Coverage of Mass Murders

How many of these sick people who wantonly and arbitrarily kill crowds of people with bombs, guns or their cars are acting as copycats of prior similarly demented acts by other people?

We may never know. But every time these demented folks have killed people in places like Aurora, San Bernardino, Charlottesville and Las Vegas the media have prominently published their names and even their pictures. Don’t you think that this has an effect?

The media can call them losers, shooters, terrorists or the social dropouts that they are, and even publish information about them such as their backgrounds and affiliations. But they shouldn’t ever  publish their names or pictures. The media should not glamorize them so that later copycats can have their turn having fame as well.

My libertarian values don’t permit me to argue that the media should be censored in this area. But if one news outlet were to pledge publicly that it would stop this practice, not only would it be the responsible thing to do, many people like me in the marketplace would both applaud and turn to that outlet for news coverage.

That in turn would encourage other media to make the same pledge, allowing everyone to win.

But there are other areas or irresponsibility as well. I still remember seeing a picture in the newspaper of then President Jimmy Carter putting on a bulletproof vest. The message to potential assassins was clear: They should  to instead aim for the head.

Media, please give your reporting some thought and act in the public interest. I am calling upon several media outlets on this subject, and I am asking all of the media to do the same. If we spread this message, we have a good chance of saving many numbers of innocent lives.

(The marquees on the Las Vegas Strip, including the marquee of MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, go dark for 11 minutes in tribute to the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, on October 8, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, a man killed 58 people and injured more than 450 after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.)

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Judge James P. Gray (Ret.) was a judge on the Superior Court of Orange County, California for 25 years, and was the running mate of Gary Johnson in the 2012 presidential contest, as well as the Libertarian Party's 2004 candidate for the United States Senate in California. The author of multiple books and a play, he is a critic of current American drug laws.

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