Crime for Infamy

Three American teenagers fatally shot Australian Chris Lane while he was on his morning jog.

Their motive was one that sent shivers down my spine; a sickening concoction of boredom and the need for attention.

When a tragic and senseless crime such as this occurs a question repetitively pops into my mind.

Should those who commit crime purely for infamy receive media publicity?

Particularly in the case of mass shootings, the media are too often saturated with images and details of the accused’s life leaving them instilled in our minds while the victims are faceless and nameless merely represented by a statistic.

Refraining from publishing details about an accused could act as deterrence to individuals who kill merely to make a name for themself. If the main purpose for the bloodshed was to be thrown into the media spotlight, then not identifying them would deprive them from the satisfaction they crave.

Forbes magazine Journalist Joseph Grenny takes this perspective even further. He suggests that hyped up media that centralises on the perpetrator not only gifts wanted notoriety but entices copycat crime by creating a competition like environment for criminally minded people.

He is pushing for more to be done by legislating on the issue. However, this view is one that is likely to be met angrily by freedom of speech and freedom of information activists. Not to mention media companies that profit enormously from such stories.

Media Ethics

There is no doubt that the Internet is changing the way journalists go about their jobs.

While this blog often concentrates on the impact that the media revolution is having on the law it is also important to acknowledge the change in media ethics.

Not too long ago everything written by journalists was subjected to editing multiple times before it was published. Social media and the Internet now allow for instant publication and this can sometimes result in the release of content that may not have throughly been thought through.

It is much easier to to write a post that may not take into consideration all of the verified facts or that may offend a victim or a victims family, than it is to pen a formal newspaper article.

Stephen Ward is pushing for an updated version of ethics to be taught to journalism students.

His article can be read here.