obamaIt’s been hard to avoid the terrible events in America that have seen so many killed at the hands of a crazed gunman.  This tragic event joins a sadly growing list of such shootings, each seemingly more gruesome than the last.

Alongside the widespread dismay at the massacre there has been calls by President Obama for serious measures to stop such events happening again.  Whilst an obvious target for these measures might be tighter gun controls, one would hope an equally prominent target is the media and their response to the tragedy.  Charlie Brooker summed things up better than I could in a 2009 edition of his Newswipe show, after a similarly gruesome shooting in Germany.

What role does social media play?

Suffice to say that most of this clip was aimed at the television news media, but since 2009 social media is playing an ever more prominent role in our lives.  Importantly it also provides a platform to grab your five minutes of fame like no other.  It’s allowed people to post up their own footage of such events, and discuss the reasons behind such tragedies like never before.

In the clip Dr Park Dietz gives a chilling critique of the media and their role in these events.  He recommends:

  • not showing a photo of the killer
  • not giving 24/7 coverage to the killing
  • not making the body count headline news
  • not turning the killer into an anti-hero
  • do localise so that the news is there for those affected, but make it boring for everyone else

everytime we see saturation coverage of a mass murder we expect to see a couple more within a week

It seems that none of these tips have been taken on board, and we’ve had a number of massacres this year.  Whilst each of us has limited scope to change things, and certainly can’t control what other people say on Twitter et al, it does raise the question of whether we should allow this topic to be discussed on our own communities (if we have them), and if so, should we abide by any of the tips raised above?

What are your thoughts?