"Even in the U.S., with our fierce commitment to a free and open press, there are precedents for voluntary media restrictions. Courts and journalists usually recognize an overriding public interest in protecting the privacy of sexual assault victims and minors involved in crimes, and sometimes even the reputations of the accused. Safety, too, can trump the public right to know. Few media outlets would publish the instructions for making a bomb. Promulgating the template for rampage shootings is in similar need of restriction."
American news media have popularized mass public murders in the United States. Their saturation coverage has not only turned the mass murderers into celebrities and the atrocities they commit into mass entertainment; it's encouraged the murders.
The response from the media outlets to this truth has been the chirping of crickets. Yet from a 7/21 NBC News report (The Media Is Fueling Donald Trump's Campaign) the news organizations are very much aware they're controlling the phenomenon of spectacle in the United States.
So the answer to my question is that they know. It's just that they don't care. They save their concern for things they consider important, like whether they're helping a political candidate.
Someday, when more in the American public have made the connection, they'll revolt against the news media's encouragement of mass atrocities.
Until that day I'll keep republishing the Wall Street Journal article that explains in exhaustive detail the connection between mass murders and the type of news coverage they garner. As I've done before, I'll extract the eight-point plan laid out in the article for creating responsible media coverage of a mass murder and feature it as preface:
Aside from the act itself, there is no greater aim for the mass killer than to see his own grievances broadcast far and wide. Many shooters directly cite the words of prior killers as inspiration. In 2007, the forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner told "Good Morning America" that the Virginia Tech shooter's self-photos and videotaped ramblings were a "PR tape" that was a "social catastrophe" for NBC News to have aired.
Rampage shooters crave the spotlight, and we should do everything possible to deprive them of it.
By ARI N. SCHULMAN
November 8, 2013
The Wall Street Journal
Someday soon, we are likely to awake to news of yet another rampage shooting, one that perhaps will rival the infamous events at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora and Newtown. As unknowable as the when and who and where of the next tragedy is the certainty that there will be one, and of what will follow: The tense initial hours as we watch the body count tick higher. The ashen-faced news anchors with pictures of stricken families. Stories and images of the fatal minutes. Reports on the shooter's journals and manifestos. A weary speech from the president. Debates about guns and mental health.
Underlying this grim national ritual, and the pronouncements from all quarters that mass shootings are "senseless," is the disturbing feeling that these acts are beyond our understanding. As the criminologist and forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz writes, we talk about these acts as if they arise from "alien forces." So we focus our efforts on thwarting future mass shooters—catching them through the mental health system, or making it harder for them to get guns, or making it easier for others with guns to stop them. Some enterprising minds have even suggested that schoolchildren be trained to gang-rush them.