Why No Notoriety?
The goal of No Notoriety is to reduce the amount of rampage mass killings that have escalated in both occurrence and severity over the last 15 years. Research and ensuing data support the fact that infamy and notoriety is a motivational factor for individuals to commit rampage mass murder to elevate themselves to a level that they cannot achieve in a normal fashion through their everyday lives. We now know that one killer inspires another. We must do everything we can to prevent future atrocities that could result from extensive media coverage of individuals who attempt or commit these rampages. No Notoriety is of the belief that the only message from the media to potential killers should be, “you will not receive fame in this way any more.”
Media driven infamy can be removed with little or no negative impact to society. This only requires the media to place the matter of public safety as a priority. No Notoriety calls on the media to eliminate the gratuitous use of the name and likeness of rampage mass killers, and shift the focus to the victims, heroes and survivors.
Notoriety serves as not only a reward for these murderers, but also as a “call to action” for other like-minded individuals who seek to gain a similar amount of publicity, motivating them to create and carry out copycat acts.
- The VA Tech – studied and was inspired by the Columbine killers. Mailed a pre-prepared package of video, photos and manifesto to NBC News.
- The Northern Illinois University – studied Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings before going on his killing spree.
- Tucson Safeway – researched ‘famous’ political assassins.
- Aurora – told psychiatrist: “felt he couldn’t make mark on the world with science but could become famous by blowing up people.”
- The Sandy Hook – researched the Northern Illinois University shooting and was obsessed with Columbine. He had a list of mass murderers, including Aurora, on a spreadsheet complete with the killers’ names including number of kills.
- Isla Vista – uploaded video manifesto onto YouTube. Had 137 page document sent to local news network.
- German Wings Pilot (purposefully crashed a jet filled with passengers into the alps) – told girlfriend, “one day I will do something that will change the system and then everyone will know my name and remember it.”
- Lafayette theater – left behind a journal thanking the man accused of shooting and killing 9 in a Charleston church for the “wake up call.”
- Roanoke WDBJ – the perpetrator posted video of shooting executions on social media, faxed letter to ABC News. Referenced the Charleston mass killer.
- Oregon Umpqua Community College – killer wrote on his blog “I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone & unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are. A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone.” “His face splashed across every screen, his name across the lips of every person on the planet, all in the course of one day.” “Seems like the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”
- A video made by the Parkland, FL Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS perpetrator said he wanted to become a school shooter for the notoriety it would bring him, stating: “When you see me on the news you’ll know who I am.”
- Santa Fe High School (Texas) perpetrator told police he specifically spared students he liked so they would tell the media his story.
- Perpetrator in the New Zealand Christchurch mosque shooting cited Mother Emanuel AME Church (Charleston) perpetrator as inspiration for the shooting.
By asking the media to eliminate the gratuitous use of an assailant’s name and photo, isn’t putting public safety at risk when there is a killer on the loose?
The No Notoriety protocol clearly states that if it helps in the assailant’s apprehension, the assailant should be named and photo shown. We are talking about eliminating the gratuitous use of the name and photo AFTER the killer has been apprehended or found dead.
Isn’t a No Notoriety protocol infringing on the First Amendment? (also see: Don’t we need to know facts about mass murderers so we can stop future killings?)
The No Notoriety protocol absolutely does NOT infringe on the First Amendment. We are not asking to completely eliminate the name from reporting. What we are asking is for the media to take public safety into consideration when reporting on mass killers – act responsibly and voluntarily. Elevate victims, heroes and survivors. Report only the facts without adding complimentary color to the perpetrator or their actions. Limit the perpetrator’s name to once per piece as a reference point, never in the headlines and no photo above the fold. Repetitiveness is unnecessary, gratuitous and adds nothing to the story.
It’s very important to keep in mind that the media has already set precedent when they voluntarily changed their policies when reporting on victims of sexual assault, victims of suicide and juveniles. We’re saying it’s time for another policy change.
Don’t we need to know facts about mass murderers so we can stop future killings?
We should investigate all of the facts surrounding mass murder and certainly the WHY and HOW. The WHO does not require a perpetrator’s name or photo but rather, the mindset, demographic and motivational profile of the WHO, helping to identify individuals at risk and prevent future incidents.
The experts and research clearly show that the desire for notoriety is a material motivating factor for at risk individuals to carry out similar or copy cat crimes. Media elevation coverage of mass killer(s) continues to give them exactly what they want. This must change.
Doesn’t the public have a right to know the name and see photos of mass killers?
Experts who study mass murder say if you’re going to report on the individual, show the murderer in the most unflattering light possible, perhaps on the autopsy table or incarcerated. Never print their manifestos and/or propaganda. We are not saying eliminate facts about the assailant, but instead eliminate the gratuitous use of their names and likenesses, thereby eliminating the spotlight they seek.
Can’t a mass killer just publicly put his own agenda on the Internet?
Anyone can post anything, including themselves on the internet, but having national/world attention on TV, newspapers, magazine covers, major network news is an entirely different story. Getting “above the fold” is the goal of those who crave notoriety. Keep in mind anyone can get on the Internet – but it is not as easy to get on the front page of The New York Times or the lead story in CNN or Fox News, and that is what needs to stop.
Aren’t you essentially asking for media censorship?
No, we have never asked for censorship. We are asking for the same consideration that has been given in other areas of reporting. The media has already set precedent by voluntarily changing their policies when reporting on victims of sexual assault, suicide and on juveniles. We’re saying it’s time for another policy change for the sake of public safety.
Do law enforcement agencies agree that media created infamy can have a negative effect on public safety?
Absolutely. In fact, No Notoriety has the official support of 3 top LEO organizations, including the International Association Of Chiefs Of Police (IACP). Additionally, the FBI has a similar DON’T NAME THEM campaign developed by ALERRT Center at Texas State University which trains law enforcement on active shooter response.
Have you witnessed any positive shift by the media toward No Notoriety reporting?
Indeed, we have. There has been a noticeable focus by the media on elevating the victims, heroes and survivors – as it should be. This is quite significant and we know the media is listening.
During the Aurora theater shooting trial, the majority of Denver mass media exhibited No Notoriety policies in their coverage. People Magazine became the first major magazine publication to adopt a no notoriety policy and most recently the Florida chapter of Society Of Professional Journalists (SPJ) approved official support for No Notoriety. There is also great support from many individual professional journalists.
Isn’t mental health more of an issue in mass killings than media coverage?
Certainly the role that mental health may play in mass murder is an additional important aspect, and should be addressed. There is no single answer to this complex problem, rather there are many points of improvement that our society can take to limit these types of actions, and the elimination of notoriety by the media being one them. Rampage mass killings are, in most cases, suicidal individuals who crave the spotlight. Eliminating that spotlight can be an easy fix.
Don’t you think guns are more of a factor in mass killings than how the media reports on them?
Rampage mass killings are a complex problem and there are several points of improvement that our society can take to limit these types of actions, including the “how” these massacres are carried out. Notoriety, infamy and “press” is a material motivating factor for violent/like minded individuals to get their “time in the sun” and can be easily and immediately eliminated.
What feedback have you received from the public?
No Notoriety continues to receive overwhelming support, positive action and feedback from the public (see: survey). Support spans across the political aisle, the gun debate, and views regarding mental health. A No Notoriety protocol by the media makes sense and can be implemented immediately. Many victims, survivors and family members of individuals murdered as a result of rampage mass killings have joined us on this quest in an effort to save lives.