Six years ago, newscaster Charlie Brooker got fed up with the way TV handles mass shootings. This was his response.
First of all, none of this is to take away from the raw tragedy of what happened in Charleston, S.C. yesterday. It was hate. It was blind, mad, twisted, sick, racist, insane hate. This is not to say it shouldn't be covered. This is to say that the violence itself should not be fetishized. Charlie Brooker tried to get that message out on the BBC six years ago, and sadly, he is one of the few (along with forensic psychologist Park Dietz, featured in the video) talking about it.
Someone put this on reddit today with the title "Every time there's a mass murder, this Charlie Brooker video needs to be reposted." Redditors often complain about sites "stealing" the stuff they (re)post. I think about this video a lot, however, and it does (tragically) need to be reposted a lot. So, y'know, for all of reddit's faults...thanks for the reminder.
Shooters like the 21-year-old who attacked Emanuel AME should not be given wall-to-wall coverage on cable news. It leads directly to copycat attacks. It's not about whether to cover tragedies, it's about how. Talk about the community rallying together. Talk about the legacies of the victims. Talk about the good work of the Emanuel AME Church. Talk about Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church's slain pastor. Talk about how parents, friends, and neighbors can urge troubled people to seek help. Don't reenact violence. Don't put up a shooter's entire social media history.
In short, don't do what you do, cable news.