The news media's role in mass shootings

“I’m not out for censorship,” Coleman said in an interview at the time. “But the wall-to-wall coverage and graphic depictions can really get to vulnerable people.”

We know all this, but we don’t know quite what to do about it. And the media isn’t alone in this contradiction. This week, the president of the United States went to the locale of the mayhem in Colorado, while flags in this country were ordered to be flown at half-staff, and the entire media ( RealClearPolitics included) is discussing this case. We are talking about the victims, yes, but also the shooter — and about the dark movie that seemed to galvanize him to murder.

The killer did all that, and he undoubtedly knew this would be the result ahead of time. Many journalists — and public officials — have tried to keep this truism in mind as they respond to the carnage in Aurora. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, for one, has made it a point never to mention the apprehended suspected by name — and it’s not because Hickenlooper thinks the man is innocent.

Three years ago, world renowned psychiatrist Park Dietz offered these suggestions to the media: “If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders,” he said, do the following…