In an unusual move for a journalist, I'm trying to tell the Associated Press what to do; usually it's the other way around. I've created an online petition
urging the AP to update its Stylebook
to instruct journalists and media organizations to stop publishing the names of perpetrators in mass shootings.
Why? Because the murderers seem to be seeking fame and because the AP Stylebook
is known as "The Journalists Bible." It's a style guide, and what it says usually goes for news outlets worldwide.
While there's not much we can do to make politicians protect us or to prevent random people from shooting up our children's schools or grandmother's churches, we can stop making these assholes famous. One way to do that is to insist that the media stop publishing the names of mass shooters, which is giving them exactly what they want: Fame, and an outlet for their screwed up ideas.
Honestly, I don't know if it'll do any good — but it might. The AP updates its Stylebook all the time. And, really, pushing for action from an organization that can make an immediate difference feels a hell of a lot better than doing nothing.
So join me in my call to stop the violence by signing this Change.org petition
and urging the AP to stop publishing the names of those who are terrorizing us.
For the record, I'm not the only journalist urging the media to change its ways:
The New York Times
, Aug. 27, 2015, "The Virginia Shooter Wanted Fame. Let’s Not Give It to Him
The Atlantic, May 29, 2014: "The Media Can Prevent Mass Murderers from Becoming Famous
, Dec. 23, 2013: "Families Ask Media to Stop Publicizing Names of Mass Shooters
The Washington Post
, Nov. 8, 2013: "What Mass Killers Want — And How to Stop Them
P.S. Many thanks to my Swedish friend Torgny Bjers
for prompting me to create this petition. Guess what the media doesn't do in Sweden? They don't publish the names of criminals like the U.S. media does.