Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Media
21 July 2012

How the media shouldn’t cover a mass murder

A look at the "Batman killer" front pages.

By Helen Lewis

Every time there’s a mass shooting, I remember this piece of footage from Charlie Brooker’s BBC series Newswipe. In it, a forensic psychiatrist outlines the guidelines for news reporting of such a tragedy, assuming that your aim is to prevent further ones.

 

He says:

If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders…

Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Don’t have photographs of the killer.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them

Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.

Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story.

Not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.

Do localise this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market. 

Here are this morning’s front pages. Judge for yourself who has done a good job of heeding that advice, and who hasn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of @hendopolis