David Hogg was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He has ridden to notoriety on that affiliation.. and on Michael Bloomberg’s money. Recently, Hogg condemned USA Today for turning the Parkland high school murderer into a celebrity. Hogg is wrong about gun control, but he is right about the news media. I’d say that Hogg didn’t go far enough in condemning the media’s role in getting our kids killed. Let’s take a step back and walk the stepping stones of celebrity violence.
Since its inception in 1980, CNN was one of the first 27-7 cable news outlets. Fox News came years later in 1996. Both networks had to fill the airwaves with compelling programming. That news environment was a sharp contrast from the measured comments of the Walter Cronkite era. Today, the news can tell us the truth or it can lie to us, but we’ll turn them off if they bore us for a second.
Enter the mass murder in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996. This was a perfect story for the news media. The story had a bad guy and lots of innocent victims. The media could speculate for hours as to why the murderer killed school children… and they did exactly that. They showed the murderer’s face and said his name for days on end. The media turned the dead murderer into an overnight world-wide celebrity.
A month later we saw the next mass murder in Port Arthur, Australia where a man again murdered innocent victims. This murder, however, was different. The murderer had seen the publicity given to the Dunblane murderer. The murderer at Port Arthur wanted that celebrity for himself.
We find the truth is in the murderers’ journals, their doctor’s reports, and the police investigations. The murderers told us why they killed. The murderers claim we ignored them when they were alive, but swore that we’d know their name after they murder innocent victims. With the help of the news media, they succeeded.
We can draw a direct line from Dunblane, Scotland to Port Arthur, Australia to Columbine, Colorado, to Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Extend the line onward to the Boston Marathon, the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, to Las Vegas, Nevada, and on to Parkland, Florida. The US news media gives each murder a billion dollars of publicity. The US news media, let alone the world media, turn these murderers into rock-star celebrities.
That billion dollar publicity campaign is also a casting-call
that dredges up the next narcissistic murderer.
Psychologists and media experts said that a third or more of these mass murders could be stopped if we changed media coverage. We know better than to show the murderer’s face, but there is a lot of money at stake. David Hogg is right; the media is reluctant to change.
Sensationalized news coverage means more eyeballs on the small screen. That means more advertising revenue for broadcast networks. Money talks, and morality walks. This immorality leaps across the billion dollar stepping stones from mass murder to mass murder. That path leads to our kids school.
Some organizations want to stop this media inspired murder spree. We’ve done that before. We put media guidelines in place to protect rape victims and stop teen suicides. I doubt Hogg will go so far as to support these media guidelines, but I will.
Ask your local TV station to refuse to use the face and name of a mass murder. Ask your station to sign on.
Don’t inspire evil.
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