Should News Media Not Name Alleged Colorado Theater Killer?


Should the news media not be naming the man who allegedly opened fire in a Colorado movie theater Friday? Jordan Ghawi, bother of victim Jessica Ghawi, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “I don’t want the media to be saturated with the shooter’s name,” reports CBS News. When he and the other victims’ families met with President Obama over the weekend, Ghawi reported on Twitter that the president had promised not to speak the name “James Holmes.”

How should the media respond? “Journalists report the who, what, when, where, why, how,” says Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism school. “Politicians can do what they want to do but that’s not a guide for us. Our job is to report who was arrested, how they did what they did – all of that is a legitimate function of journalism.” Criminologist Jack Levin of Northeastern University, who has studied media coverage of crime, agrees, but says that what the media can do is avoid lavishing “excessive attention” on perpetrators. “So-called ‘normal’ motives for murder are things like jealousy, revenge. We don’t normally think of power,” says Levin. “People who want to be a big-shot, be a celebrity. And unfortunately, we give them what they want.”

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