Let’s take a quiz. How many of the following names do you recognize?
Adam Lanza. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Omar Mateen. Seung-Hui Cho. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Timothy McVeigh.
You got 100%? Typically that’s a great score! But in this case, it simply means that we have given these sick bastards exactly what they wanted - handed to them on a silver platter - when they killed a combined total of 443 people. Notoriety.
These eight men did not set out to take the lives of others because they were angry and wanted to play “God.” They went on shooting rampages and set off murderous bombs with the intention of shaking the world, knowing that in the aftermath the media outlets would plaster their names across every television, computer screen and mobile device possible.
As a former journalist myself, I’ve seen first hand what happens in the weeks following a major national news story such as the Oklahoma City Bombing and the Orlando Night Club shooting.
"Find a new angle."
"Relate it locally."
"Find new information about the guilty."
"Relate new information about the guilty, locally."
The morning news meetings contain white boards filled with notes pertaining to every angle possible, all relating back to the killer.
"Why did they do it?"
"What does their upbringing look like?"
"Who were their family members, let’s talk to them!"
And just like that, we have everything we need to know about these men that have now become household names. The house of the devil maybe, but nevertheless, you scored 100% when it came to recognition of the aforementioned evil.
Okay, one more quiz. Identify the name of just one victim from the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting. What about the Boston Marathon Bombing? Anyone? I didn’t think so.
Our audience game with media is very “chicken or egg” in that we are so deeply connected and reliant upon the news stories that we are no longer aware if we are truly interested in the names, history and childhood friends of these killers or if we are simply programmed to know that the media will tell us anyways so now we expect it.
Gun control is currently the number one issue facing the presidential election. But as we all know, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And then those people become notorious. Heroes even. Heroes in the eyes of those who want their name remembered…even if that remembrance comes from taking the lives of 443 innocent people and ruining the lives of everyone who loved them.
All for the sake of ratings.