Media coverage of mass shootings contributed to the increase in the number of such crimes in the U.S., researchers said.
A study co-authored by Western New Mexico University’s Jennifer Johnston and Andrew Joy claimed that the widespread media coverage of mass shooting instills a desire for fame among the shooters. The study found that the number of mass shootings in the U.S. have increased threefold since 2000. The paper described the spike as a “steep increase in this type of crime.”
The study was presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention Thursday. Researchers found that shooters share three common traits: rampant depression, social isolation and pathological narcissism. The researchers analyzed data on mass shootings from media reports, FBI reports, information from advocacy organizations and previous studies.
They concluded that the increase in such crimes was directly related to the widespread media coverage of mass shootings and the tendency of social media sites to glorify the shooters and downplay the victims.
“We suggest that the media cry to cling to ‘the public’s right to know’ covers up a greedier agenda to keep eyeballs glued to screens, since they know that frightening homicides are their No. 1 ratings and advertising boosters,” Johnston said in a press release.
She suggested that the media form a pact to refrain from sharing the “names, faces, detailed histories or long-winded statements of killers” adding that such a step could reduce the number of such crimes in one or two years.
“Even conservatively, if the calculations of contagion modelers are correct, we should see at least a one-third reduction in shootings if the contagion is removed,” Johnston said.