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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: How the media can fight mass shootings: Don’t mention killers by name

Dayton shooting
In Dayton, Ohio, residents comfort each other as they await word on whether they know any of the victims of a mass shooting.
(Associated Press)

To the editor: I am one of the rapidly growing number of Americans who have lived through a mass shooting. These events naturally garner widespread media attention, and I urge the Los Angeles Times to reconsider how it covers these events. (“Suspect in El Paso massacre ‘didn’t hold anything back’ in police interrogation,” Aug. 4)

Recent research has examined the relationship between media coverage and mass shooting contagion. Similar to the recommendations for reporting on suicide, reporting on mass shootings can adopt research-based recommendations to reduce the risk of contagion and copycat effects. This includes minimizing the emphasis on perpetrators’ names, photos and motives in order to reduce notoriety.

The Times’ coverage of the mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton has not adhered to these recommendations. Along with necessary policy change, responsible media coverage can be part of the solution to this public health problem.

Kelly Trumbull, Los Angeles

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To the editor: After a gunman killed 51 people earlier this year at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to say the shooter’s name. Mass shooters crave notoriety, and we give it to them every time we mention them by name.

What if, when more mass shootings happen — and grievously, we know they will — the media did not state the shooters’ names, but instead referred to them only as “the shooter”?

Let’s not give these individuals the notoriety they seek. If this small step deters even one shooter, it will be worth it.

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Mike Still, Duarte


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