Rethinking the reporting of the mass random shooting – or is it an autogenic massacre?
Australian and New Zealand Communication Association
School of Arts and Humanities / CREATEC
The crime of the mass random shooting seems frighteningly common, yet around the world there are probably no more than about 26 per year: one per fortnight. The apparent randomness of the crime is one of the aspects which assures it of its publicity. Another is the traditional practice on the part of the gunman (and they are all men) of making a statement about his motives, or leaving a room or a box or a website of his grievances, to be uncovered and wondered at. The media’s focus on the genesis and impact of each mass random shooting is in some ways understandable, but it is at the expense of addressing the more common, and more preventable, non-‐random mass killings such as the murder suicides when a father ‘annihilates’ his family before turning his gun upon himself . This paper examines a process through which crimes of mass killing have been rethought, to make their similarities and differences clearer. This rethinking has enabled a better identification of, importantly, motive. In time, the process of rethinking may help inform the space and the nature of the media reporting given to these killings, enabling society to manage them better, mitigating their impacts.
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