Eric Boehlert bemoans the fact that the killings at a high school near Seattle in the state of Washington last Friday did not make the front pages of the national newspapers. Three students, one of whom was the assailant who killed himself, died and three other students remain hospitalized. While I can understand the reasoning behind Boehlert’s sentiment (that this lack of national coverage is a sad reflection on the US that such dreadful shootings are now seen as routine), it may not altogether be a bad thing.
I have argued before that giving such stories huge amounts of publicity and going into great detail on the lives of the killers and their motives may actually serve to inspire other disturbed people to copy these killings, in order to make themselves famous. We know that the Columbine killers actually harbored such fantasies, having discussions about who might play them in the film re-enactments of their shooting spree.
T. J. Lane, another high school killer in our own region a couple of years ago, seemed to revel in all the attention he received and I was irritated that the Plain Dealer would feed his ego by having a fresh photo of him in court on the front page every day of the trial. The Plain Dealer also gave front-page, above-the-fold, coverage to the recent Washington shooting.
Of course, local news in the area of a shooting will still highlight these stories. But those prospective killers who dream of getting on all the national news shows and having pundits talk endlessly about them may (one can at least hope) become discouraged if there is less publicity.