Staff Editorial: Notoriety examined

In light of the recent surge of violence, many people have voiced concerns with the role of media releasing the names of assailants of crimes nationwide. This presents a double-edged sword for journalists and media organizations; there exists a struggle between providing the public with as much objective information as possible and avoiding giving the criminals the infamy that some are aiming for.

It’s here that the heart of the issue lies; the general consensus is that by providing the names of shooters or bombers they will be able to serve as “role models” for other potential attackers due to the notoriety they achieve. Those who commit horrible atrocities run the potential of becoming firebrands, and such a legacy runs the possibility of ending additional lives.

Conversely, how can a country expect to grow from the past if it actively abolishes different parts of its history? There’s something borderline Orwellian in the idea that a country should silence parts of its news; these events happened, and to redact the names of attackers would be to pretend that they never existed. The battle exists between integrity and safety, and the line is notably grey.

However, the public is as much as responsible for the response to attacks as the media is. If the news is doing its job correctly, the information provided should be as objective as possible. It’s also essential that the public understand that they are the ones that ultimately react to events; while the media may sensationalize tragic events, it’s on the shoulders of the public to avoid glorifying someone who commits devastating crimes.

Honestly, it’s considerably uncommon that someone who commits a mass atrocity becomes a household name; when was the last time you were able to name the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks off the top of your head? In times as desperate and tragic as those recently, people are often so preoccupied with empathizing with those who are attacked that it’s not possible to recall who the assailant was.