{{featured_button_text}}

At a time in which terrorist attacks around the blog seem to be happening with alarming regularity, there's no question that France has been especially affected.

Since the beginning of 2015, at least seven acts of terror in France have killed at least 230 people, with many more people injured.

Given that context, it's understandable why a prominent newspaper in that country would arrive at a decision like this one, outlined by the editor of Le Monde this week: "We will publish no more photographs of the authors of these killings, to avoid the effects of posthumous glorification."

From the other side of the ocean, it's easy for journalists in the United States to question this decision. We're trained to bring all the relevant information we can gather about the stories we cover to our readers and viewers, including the names and images of people who do horrendous things, such as driving an explosives-laden truck into a giant crowd with the intention of killing as many as possible.

That's why many in the media balked last year when a sheriff in Oregon, following a mass shooting at a college, refused to publicly state the suspect's name. "You will not hear anyone from this law enforcement operation use his name," he said, adding that doing so would "only glorify his horrific actions and serve to inspire future shooters.”

As we find ourselves covering these types of stories more frequently, it's important for the media not to immediately shoot down these types of sentiments because there is real concern, especially in the digital and social media age, about attackers becoming inspired by media coverage.

But does that mean we should stop reporting the basic information we gather such as criminal suspect names or photos?

I don't believe that's the answer. But I also think the news media should take more care with how it reports that information. A suspect name should be published, but that doesn't mean it has to be referenced every 5 minutes on a newscast or put into giant font on a newspaper page.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

The same treatment should be considered for photos and video clips. We don't need need to run them incessantly or in giant blocks of space. And if we have other images available, we don't need to show suspects' social media photos trying to look tough or cool.

We can also do a better job with language. Terms such "lone wolf" are not needed and only serve to sensationalize stories to the point that it could border on glorifying the person.

But it's also important that we do report on who these people are and are not. Especially today, when there's so much misinformation flying around when these stories break, it's vital that media do their job of gathering verified facts and informing the public about what we know. 

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Executive editor Jeremy Boyer’s column appears Thursdays in The Citizen and he can be reached at (315) 282-2231 or jeremy.boyer@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBoyer

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments