The Media's Impact on Mass Shootings

Jay Maxwell By Jay Maxwell, 14th Feb 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Media

Anger is a killing thing: it kills the man who angers, for each rage leaves him less than he had been before - it takes something from him. - Louis L'Amour

Mass Killings Continue to Soar

Alex Mesoudi PhD, reports for ITHP: In the latter part of December of last year, twenty school children and six adult staff members were slaughtered by a lone gunman in Connecticut. Although this ghastly calamity was met with widespread consternation, Americans are morosely all too familiar with such mass shootings. An observation of the evening news will affirm that they seem to occur with startling regularity. And although they appear to plague the United States more than most other regions, the nature of this violence is not indigenous to the United States. In the aftermath of mass shootings, one can expect a media frenzy. Commentators contrive all types of theories to explain such vile acts. On a superficial level, some of the arguments offered sound quite plausible; however, empirical research into mass shootings are inconclusive. The observations seem to suggest a combination of factors. For instance, the availability of guns plays a crucial role, as indicated by a decline in mass shootings in Australia following a ban on semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. But while the availability of guns is pivotal, it has not proven to be sufficient. In unique circumstances, there may be a minuscule connection between mental illness and mass shootings, but this is the exception rather than the rule. The effects of violence in movies, and various other platforms continues to be studied and debated. For example, in a controlled environment violent video games can incite aggressive behavior. But does that extend to real-life cases of mass shootings? The vote is still out on this.

Mass Media as a Culprit

One probable cause of mass shootings that is often overlooked by the mass media, however, is the mass media themselves. Could It be by devoting perpetual, uninterrupted coverage to these events, the media may be stimulating 'copycat' mass shootings? In scenarios where the media had a profound effect on 'copycat' related occurrences have been documented in a different, but related, behavior. For instance, suicides that do not involve homicides (which excludes many of the mass shootings mentioned above, where the perpetrator often commits suicide at the end of the shooting spree). Sociologists have compiled convincing data bridging several decades, showing an increase in the suicide rate after the suicide of a dignitary has been highly publicized. This increase is commensurate with the amount of media coverage given to the high-profile case. It was reported in the mid-1980's, a wave of suicides on the Viennese subway spiraled downward following the debut of strict media guidelines on the reporting of suicides. While suicide is assuredly a complex anomaly with a multiplicity of causes (just like mass shootings), all of this data implies that the media can play a vital role in triggering copycat suicides in certain fragile individuals. Unlike suicides, mass shootings are too infrequent to conclude statistically whether a copycat effect is wielding power.


Mass Destruction, Mass Killings, Mass Murder, Mass Shootings, Mass Shootings 2012, Mass Shootings In Us

Meet the author

author avatar Jay Maxwell

I am endeavoring to become a freelance article writer for now. Recent studies include a freelance writer's article and blog course offered by Growth Education.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
14th Feb 2013 (#)

I agree that one of the causes for increased murder rates may be media coverage. A while ago I read a psychological study that stated there was a certain underbelly of society that are gratified by the fact that Murder becomes the first slot on the nightly news programmes, the perpetrators have a means of boasting about their deeds by precisely how much coverage they gain, it is a means of boasting about their accomplishments. One thought is that stopping the media coverage of the immediate after effects of the murder could actually take away their ability to gain kudos from their act; does the media need to accept the time for change?

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author avatar Ian mattson
28th Feb 2013 (#)

im doing a project for school trying to convince politicans it is time for change in gun laws.
we were each told to state a question that made sence and was interesting to us mine was how does the internet effect mass shooting this includes the media and even things like buying and or selling wepons online is there any way you could give me some resorces to help with this?

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