Megyn Kelly of Fox News and CNN's Don Lemon debated a request from Sheriff John Hanlin that journalists minimize or altogether refrain from mentioning the name of the recent Oregon shooter, and instead focus on the victims and their families.
"I will not name the shooter," Hanlin, of Oregon's Douglas County, told reporters at a press conference last week just hours after 9 people were slain at Umpqua Community College.
"I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act. You will never hear me mention his name. We would encourage media to avoid using it, to not repeat it. We encourage you not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this. Focus your attention on the victims, on the families, helping them get through this difficult time."
In response to Hanlin's request, Megyn Kelly tweeted
, "Right on" and "Good for him!" She went on to write that she believes that TV in particular could give the Oregon shooter the "infamy he prob[ably] desired" and suggested that the names of mass shooters should be reported in print media instead of broadcast.
Don Lemon disagreed, however.
"Hi Megyn. My heart agrees with you, but I believe we (journalists) must name shooters. Sparingly though," he tweeted
Mediaite's Joe Concha noted
that Anderson Cooper seemed to side with Kelly and Hanlin, as he refrained from sharing the name and photo of the mass murderer on his CNN show.
Journalists have long debated the ethics of shining a spotlight on mass murderers, fearing that doing so could inspire copycats who desire fame.
Erik Wemple of The Washington Post reported
that the newspaper's national editor, Cameron Barr, explained recently that he and his colleagues "see no benefit in withholding information from readers."
Concha, however, cited in his report a joint study
from Arizona State University and Northeastern Illinois University that found that "20 to 30 percent of attacks are set off by other attacks."
In August, news reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward of CBS affiliate WDBJ in Virginia were killed by a former colleague while filming a news segment, and that shooter also filmed the horrific act himself using a smartphone. He soon posted the video on Twitter, seeming to prioritize the media, fame, and infamy aspects of his crime. Many news outlets were quick to re-broadcast the footage, an act that also set off a debate about the ethics of media and mass shootings.
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