There are a whole bunch of major problems with the American media. If you extend any of them out far enough, they all become fatal, because when you're operating on the scale of a nation, there aren't very many decisions that don't end up being life-or-death for someone. But one of the areas we cover, mass shootings, we do so incredibly, visibly wrong that it's hard to explain. I'm going to put the news content of this post below the fold, because I don't want to give it the credit of the front page on my blog. I'm also going to use the nofollow html tag in my links, because I don't want to increase the relevant website's google traffic.
USA Today has a report on the Aurora, CO shootings dedicated, the police officers' descriptions of the process of arresting the gunman. The first image on the page is a massive courtroom sketch of the gunman, and his name is in the headline.
The way we report on violent crime, centering around the criminals rather than the victims, constructing a nearly heroic narrative, encourages copycats, inspires new generations of murderers. There are a whole lot of reasons that the United States has one of the highest intentional homicide rates in the developed world. The biggest and most obvious one is that we let pretty much anyone have nearly any kind of weapon they want. But one of the other huge ones is that we don't hold our media accountable for the way they present their stories. Or, when we do, we mostly hold them accountable to their shareholders, and mostly only demand that they make their content maximally sensationalist, to draw in advertising views.
The Aurora, CO story is over. The people who should follow and know about the result of the trial are those who are particularly obsessed, and those who are close to the story. The former category is probably dangerous, and the latter category deserves access to the narrative.
Broadcasting this media to the entire country, months after the event, does little apart from remind every would-be mass shooter that the way to go down in fame, if you fuck anything else up big time (note that the gunman had recently flunked out of medical school) is to kill a whole bunch of people somewhere they feel safe.
[note: the article I posted about an hour and a half ago, the videos of the crazy person, features a moment where that guy makes the same point I'm making about the problem of the media and copycats. I want to take the time now to clarify that just because one of the fifty or so crazy and false things he said happened to be pretty close to true and reasonable doesn't mean I agree with him, or that he was being reasonable even for a moment.]