mass shootings Responsible Coverage policy

As a result of this campaign, the following guidelines were written by journalists at digital media organizations such as Elite Daily, Refinery29, and Aplus:

Recognizing that mass killings are contagious, and that the manner in which we report on them affects how they spread, we propose the following guidelines:

  1. Limit the name and likeness of the perpetrator in reporting, except when the alleged perpetrator is still at large and in doing so would aid in the perpetrator's capture.
    • Name and likeness to be excluded from headline and thumbnail image
    • Name and likeness to be minimized from the body of the content itself.
    • Elevate the names and likenesses of all victims killed and/or injured to send the message their lives are more important than the killer.
  2. Refrain from sharing direct quotes of perpetrator’s writings or uploading the perpetrator’s youtube/facebook/self-serving photos etc.
    • Avoid inclusion of such media and focus on relevant themes without spreading the perpetrator’s message
    • Avoid linking to an article that violates this policy
    • Exceptions to (a) and (b) will be made only in rare cases after a purposeful conversation w/ editor.


Research Excerpts:

Independent research conducted at Arizona State University found "that killings that receive national or international media attention do indeed inspire similar events a significant fraction of the time."

"The researchers did a statistical analysis of 176 mass shooting events in the U.S. from 2006 to 2011 and 220 school shootings between 1997 and 2013. They discovered that mass shootings were significantly more likely to occur if another shooting that received national media coverage took place in the previous 13 days -- a finding that suggests that mass shootings tend to cluster together in a similar manner to suicides."

— Source: Study Published in PLOS ONE 

After studying 160 “active shooter” events over the past decade, with access to information beyond what the public knows, Andre Simons, of the F.B.I.’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, concluded that “the copycat phenomenon is real.” When the F.B.I. report summarizing the research was released in 2014, he said: “We think we’re seeing more compromised, marginalized individuals who are seeking inspiration from those past attacks.”

 Source: NY Times


Thank you all the organizations who provided the years of research & work that have served as the backbone for this campaign: