A father of one of the theater shooting victims is challenging the media not to say the suspect’s name in an effort to curb copy-cat crimes and notoriety.
He believes media coverage can motivate more mass-shootings.
He named this challenge after his son, Alex Teves. (See the challenge here.)
We have received feedback at 9NEWS asking us to avoid saying the suspect’s name and to avoid showing his image as much as possible.
In my opinion, this is a sensible request.
I have tried my best to avoid saying the suspect’s name and showing his image as much as possible over the last several weeks when talking about the criminal case.
We must be sensitive to the requests of the victims and their request just makes sense to a point.
On the flip side….
We journalists have a duty to the truth, even if people find the truth offensive.
Often people blame the media for a lot of things and we reporters become the target of a hateful emails and phone calls when we report on tragedies and horrible events like the theater shooting.
Reporting on horrible incidents like this is NOT fun for many of us because what we do is seen as superficial and plastic. We get hateful looks and receive a lot of contempt.
Out all the noise, sometimes we can add perspective about things like loopholes in laws, lack of government services and taboo issues like mental illness.
Sometimes we can rally a community together and call for donations and support.
Sometimes we find problems and they get fixed.
Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable to put a face to these problems and that’s where reporting facts and names can often offend many.
There is a thin line in reporting the news and sanitizing copy out of fear you will alienate your audience and offend those who have already been hurt by a tragedy. I struggle with this daily hoping to serve our viewership respectfully.
I want your honest opinion. How far should we go with this challenge? I think it’s an interesting idea. And please…in the comments section…..go easy.