The horrific killing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the resultant media coverage have caused all of us here at TheBlaze to re-examine how we cover these tragic events. We want to make sure that we are not in any way contributing to the incentive someone might have to commit such a heinous act in order to gain fame or notoriety.
Along with founder Glenn Beck, the editorial staff spent a significant amount of time discussing the contours of this policy, seeking to strike the right balance between a desire to not be part of “the problem” when it comes to irresponsible media coverage of these events, while at the same time being honest and accurate about the facts. Additionally, when we believed that we had the policy finalized, we waited for a significant amount of time to make sure that it was not a knee-jerk reaction to one single tragedy.
We present this policy in its entirety to you, our readers, for one simple reason: If, God forbid, one of these events should happen again in the future, we wanted you to know why we would be doing certain things, like not revealing the name of the killer and/or obscuring his face. In the interest of transparency, we wanted you to know that we have made certain decisions beforehand about how these events, if they happen, will be covered here at TheBlaze.
Here, then, is the memorandum sent by founder Glenn Beck to all TheBlaze staff, in its entirety.
Mercury & TheBlaze Policy on Mass Killing coverage
I believe it is a universal feeling, no matter your political leaning, that we all want these senseless killings to stop and that we do not want to feel powerless. We want to do our part.
Our times demand an honest search for truth and meaning.
In the case of mass murders, there are stats now available that demonstrate that what the media does or doesn’t do in response to these acts of horror can actually make a positive difference. As Americans, let alone humans that share a common world, we should always strive for that goal.
According to James Knoll, the Director of Forensic psychiatry at the State University of New York Medical center, “massacre killers are typically marked by personality disorders: grandiosity, resentment, self-righteousness, a sense of entitlement. They become collectors of injustice who nurture their wounded narcissism. To preserve their egos, they exaggerate past humiliations and externalize their anger, blaming others for their frustrations. They develop violent fantasies of heroic revenge against an uncaring world.”
There is much to this quote that should make all of us think about every word we write or utter, if we are looking to de-escalate the tensions we all feel. But for the purpose of this memo, let us — as a responsible member of a free and unfettered press — take steps as an organization to try to make a positive difference and ‘walk the walk.’
TheBlaze policy on mass murder coverage.
1. We will always refer to the killer as just that. Killer, murderer or mass murderer. Never ‘Shooter.’ Millions of Americans are shooters but few are killers. We will also not refer to these events as ‘mass shootings’ but rather mass murders or mass killings. This applies to acts of terror. They are not to be called suicide bombers but rather suicide killers or the like. We will not reveal the killer’s name or otherwise add to their fame.
2. We will NEVER publish a murderer’s propaganda or manifesto. If it is vital to the story, we will provide a summary that indicates “according to social media postings, the killer seems to have been motivated by a belief in X,” but we will not reprint their own words or include their videos. This also applies to terrorism. We must as a society understand how we can avoid the next killer or terrorist, but we never want to give the killer the platform, justification, attention or fame, he or she was seeking.
3. We will always hide, blur or obscure the faces of the killers with exception of “AT LARGE” killers or suspects. We will do everything in our power, to remove much of the motivation of infamy.
If you feel that an exception to any of these rules is necessary, please consult with the managing editor.
Due to the volume of stories on the most recent event alone it would be impossible to correct any past stories. This policy however is to take immediate effect on all stories going forward.
My goal is not to change the world or even the media, but perhaps, in small way, we can change ourselves for the better. As the rest of the world, more and more, loves things and uses people, we will do the opposite.