Editor, The Cheshire Herald:
Recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have prompted me to express my opinion on the proliferation of this type of shooting.
I feel most folks are too focused on gun control as a solution and missing the inciting actions of the news media. While I believe more stringent and uniform gun control is a good thing, I also believe it’s not the solution to the mass shootings. Any logical problem-solving effort would apply a proposed solution to the past occurrences. In this case, tighter gun control would not have stopped most of the mass shootings. Unfortunately, our leaders are selling this as the solution, showing their willingness to peddle anything to placate their constituents.
While I don’t have a solution, I believe I can identify at least one aggravating factor … the news media. What’s worse is, I believe they are fully aware of their role in propagating the shootings and resulting deaths. Many (certainly not all) of the shooters are lured by the thought of being famous, if only for a short time. The news media makes this come true for them, even if posthumously.
The media could choose to use their vast resources in marketing to portray the shooter(s) in a way that would discourage others who might follow in their path. Psychological presentation is a powerful tool, which the media are masters at. Their commercials are clear evidence of their capabilities.
I have seen some networks half-heartedly try to not air the shooters. I’ve heard newscasters say they should not be identifying the shooter(s), only to cave when other news outlets parade the shooter during every news cast for a week or two.
Think about it: A young person who is different, an outcast, almost invisible and likely depressed, they see a shooter on the news, broadcast all over the world, telling of their plight and angst. It’s not a stretch of the imagination that this person may decide to finally be famous by perpetrating the same act.
I know the First Amendment specifically denies our legislators the ability to control the media. However, there is nothing stopping them from criticizing the media for this real result of their reporting style, except for the fact that they need the media to keep their jobs.