Open Letter to Media: Change How Mass Killers and Violent Perpetrators Are Covered

Our violent, gun-saturated society is fed guns as means of expression, from entertainment to tragic aftermath in the news time and again. Our media-saturated society can no longer differentiate between validly earned fame and cheap or destructive notoriety, and it is well-known that susceptible individuals are inspired by the notoriety given mass killers via mass media.

I ask you to change this means of informing the public to:

1) Place the victim BEFORE the perpetrator -- air or press time granted IS acknowledgement, no matter the initial information-relaying reason behind it.
2) Minimize violent incentivization via mass media.

In your case this is in regards to the incessant publicity granted to mass killers:

1) Referring the them by name.
2) Broadcasting their faces, video clips, voice bits.

Can we consider new parameters?

Mass killers/shooters should be referred to not in ways that memorialize them. They should be referred to ONLY by name or number of victims, location and time. For instance: "The six-victim Santa Barbara University shooter."

NO face shown or obscured only; NO full name mention; and especially NO clips broadcast. Yes, indeed, their demographic information, issues and histories should be talked about, bluntly and openly -- that is valid, constructive discussion.

And in addition to all the talk of mental health as a bridge to dealing with this epidemic of violence, we should also be talking about the arts. These young, male mass killers are turning first and only to rage, when other empowering outlets and means of expression are being undercut and ignored, by not only them but also by our society as a whole. Case in point? Consider the Santa Barbara shooter's anger at female rejection. Then ask any band member/musician and let them tell you their story of how, to be more attractive to women, they turned to music and performance and how it worked then and works now. We don't advocate guitars as much as we do guns, do we? Additionally, consider the 20-victim Sandy Hook shooter, whose mother, his first victim, thought she could empower her son with weapons training. Then talk to teens in arts programs, from music to theater to visual arts. Listen to song lyrics, look at art, see the anger that can be expressed there, which yet serves to build us up and move us forward -- these are other, alternate, powerful means of expression, of which I am an outspoken advocate. Talk also to the New Orleans school recently honored by the White House for its embracing of an arts-centered curriculum, which is living, beautiful proof of the impact the arts have on our youth.

Are media ratings points or magazine sales more important than the humans from whom they are earned? If the shooters and killers are continuously sensationalized by being given personalized air and press time this must be asked.

For my previous HuffPost piece on this subject, read "In Support of Art as Alternate Non-Violent Means of Expression."