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Following the tragic mass shooting on Feb. 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro announced that The Daily Wire will no longer publish any names or photographs of mass shooters or other mass killers. In the instance that an individual’s name is published inadvertently, we work to address the error quickly. When suspects are still at large, The Daily Wire might publish details about suspects, including names and images, if doing so can aid the efforts of law enforcement. The following is a revised excerpt from Shapiro’s explanation of The Daily Wire’s policy effective Feb. 19, 2018:
This decision comes after another horrific shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida. One of the jobs of those of us in the media is to weigh the public’s right to know about news events against the impact our coverage can have on the lives of Americans. It has become increasingly clear in recent years that the value of public knowledge regarding specific names and photographs of mass shooters is significantly outweighed by the possibility of encouraging more mass shootings. Studies suggest that media coverage of mass shootings can have a significant impact on the psyches of potential mass shooters — that such potential mass shooters have a cognitive craving for attention, which they know they will receive for committing atrocities.
As Professor Jennifer Johnston and Andrew Joy of Western New Mexico University found in a paper presented to the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in 2016, “media contagion” can help make mass shootings more common. “Unfortunately,” said Johnston, “we find that a cross-cutting trait among many profiles of mass shooters is desire for fame.” The rise of such a trait in mass shooters, she claimed, rose “in correspondence to the emergence of widespread 24-hours news coverage on cable news programs, and the rise of the internet during the same period.” Johnston recommended a media pact to “no longer share, reproduce, or retweet the names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers,” predicting that if the media did so, “we could see a dramatic reduction in mass shootings in one to two years.” While other studies do not make such a dramatic statistic prediction, they do support similar conclusions.
We at The Daily Wire would like to do our part. We will still report the backgrounds of mass shooters, biographical details, the type of weapons used in such shootings, how such weapons were obtained, and other details that could make a difference in the public debate with regard to policymaking. But we will not contribute to the unintentional glorification of shooters themselves by giving their names and faces airtime. Instead, we will continue to focus on the victims of such awful attacks, and the heroes who all too often must give of themselves to stop them.