For a few years now there’s been a movement among some who believe that the names of killers like Omar Mateen shouldn’t be made public. They believe that this gives them the notoriety they wanted. In the past I have posted why I disagree with this practice. Long story short, we shouldn’t forget history’s villains and if we let the media give them names, like Son of Sam or the Zodiac Killer, that gives them even more notoriety than they were looking for. Instead, what we should be doing is not over-reporting the story.
For example, it’s no secret that Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS right before the shooting and ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack even though it wasn’t organized or ordered by them. ISIS thrives on having their name in Western media, lone wolf attacks like Orlando should not be attributed to ISIS as it just gives them free publicity and propaganda which in turn could influence more ISIS inspired lone wolf attacks like the Pulse nightclub shooting.
The other worrisome practice I see being carried out by the press is the reporting of every ancillary detail and minutia about the attack. Do we really need to know that Mateen texted his wife during the attack and also checked Facebook to see if the attack was trending yet? No, we don’t. In my opinion those are what I like to call rubbernecking details, items the news reports on solely to get pageviews and clicks. Journalism used to operate under such tenets of whether there was a need for the public to know certain details of a story, emphasis on the word ‘need’. Now most major media outlets are more concerned with SEO keywords than information that is in the public’s best interest. In my opinion this is just another practice that gives the killers the notoriety that they were looking for since their every move during the incident is dissected like they were some Hollywood celebrity ordering lunch at a small town diner.
I’m not holding my breath on any of these changes to take effect anytime soon since news publishing is the industry that coined the callous phrase ‘if it bleeds it leads’.