Mass shooting “contagion” and media coverage: Minimizing the risks

Number 5638
Subject Shootings
Source Adam Lankford and Katherine Reed
Affiliation The University of Alabama and Missouri School of Journalism
Year 2018
Summary A growing body of research provides evidence of a disturbing problem: Extensive coverage of mass shootings is a factor in the increasing lethality of these incidents, and it appears to encourage some copycats who crave widespread attention and even fame. Social media sharing of content related to mass shootings, the people who commit them, their names, images, and “manifestos” also seems to increase the likelihood of subsequent mass shootings. Meanwhile, the news media have a responsibility to bear witness to events of public interest and attempt to make sense of the seemingly senseless, hold institutions (including their own) accountable for failures, and examine the psychological and social factors that might help predict and prevent mass shootings. How can the news media do their job while minimizing the potential harms of their coverage? What guidance does the research provide?
Tags mass shootings; covering mass shootings; minimize risk; mass shooting contagion
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