We knew we'd need this one again. In the US, the unthinkable -- the wanton slaughter of innocent people, often children -- is so commonplace, so mundane. The events in Florida this week (the eighth school shooting in American this year) are only particularly newsworthy for higher than average numbers. Already, the killer has been named, and a monstrous backstory constructed. The following piece, originally published during the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre in October last year, looks at the grotesque consequences of such reporting.
"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."
That's from the blog of a 16-year-old who shot dead eight of his classmates and an associate professor at Umpqua Community College in Oregon on October 1, 2015. He's speaking approvingly of Vester Flanagan, who had received reams of media coverage after shooting Virginian journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward (and wounding their interviewee Vicki Gardner) roughly two months earlier. A particular focus of the coverage was Flanagan's "suicide note" expressing his many personal and professional frustrations and praising the perpetrators of the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.