Should the media forgo using killers' names and photos?

See also: For Aurora theater shooting victim Carli Richards, the worst isn't over yet

Is the media responsible for making James Holmes famous?

Some people — including some victims' families and Westword readers — believe so.

"You need to stop showing the shooter's picture and name, as you seem to enjoy doing," a commenter wrote in response to a blog post we published in January. The post was based on testimony given at Holmes's preliminary hearing and chronicled the actions he took before the shooting, including stockpiling weapons. "You don't have to glamorize him. BUT YOU DO."

"Really don't want to look at his face, nor read about him, nor hear another word about him!!!!!!!" a reader commented on a post we published April 1, the day that Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler announced he will seek the death penalty in the case.

"We immortalize those [who] bring evil to innocence and forget the names of those [who] paid the ultimate price without ever knowing it," another wrote.

See also: For Aurora theater shooting victim Carli Richards, the worst isn't over yet

Tom and Caren Teves, whose 24-year-old son Alex was one of the twelve people killed in the July 20 massacre at the Century 16 theater, are among those who don't think newspapers, websites or TV and radio stations that report on the tragedy should use Holmes's name or photograph. "The media needs to stop making these people notorious," Tom Teves says.

To that end, the Teves family started the Alex Teves Challenge. "The goal is to take away a potential piece of a complex puzzle of motivating factors," its website explains. "CHALLENGE THE MEDIA to stop using the name and likeness of mass shooters," a move it says would limit the "notoriety and infamy" that mass killers and their copycats seek.

Instead of focusing on suspected mass murderers, Tom Teves argues, the media should pay more attention to the victims of their horrendous crimes — whom he believes are too quickly forgotten. To make his point, he often plays a trick on reporters.

"The idiot who shot my son, what was his name?" he asks. When the reporter answers "James Holmes," Teves continues to his next question: What was the name of the nine-year-old girl killed in Tucson by the shooter who also injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords?

"The journalist never gets it right," Teves says. Her name was Christina-Taylor Green.

Some local media outlets have responded to concerns like these by being more discriminating about when and how often to use Holmes's name and photo.

"We have tried to handle it sensitively," says Tim Wieland, news director at Denver's CBS4. "We haven't and can't commit to never using the suspect's name and picture. At the end of the day, our job is to report the news, and that involves reporting on the suspect."

But, he says, "when we do stories solely focused on the victims, we do make an effort to focus those stories on the victims or the family or the friends...and leave Holmes out of it."

The policy at 9News is similar, says news director Patti Dennis: "Our guidelines have always been that when the police tell us that they have arrested someone, unless that person is a minor, we would identify that person." However, she adds, "When a story is about the victims, we tend to refer to the suspect as a suspect, without photographs and videos."

And the station's guidelines have evolved since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, she says, after which 9News invited victims' families to talk to the staff about its coverage. That conversation helped shape the station's current approach.

Jeff Harris, news director at 7News, says his station also learned from Columbine. "It's this station that has the iconic image of Patrick Ireland falling out of the library at Columbine," he says. "And we have ceased to air that...because of the iconic nature and the impact that had in our community." The station does allow the clip to be licensed if Ireland requests it.

As for the Aurora shooting, 7News tries to "be judicious" about using Holmes's name and image, Harris says. Neither appeared in stories about the funerals for those who died, for example.

The Denver Post has also addressed concerns about Holmes's name and photo. On March 12, the day that Holmes was in court to enter a plea, city editor Dana Coffield wrote a blog post titled "Why we must use James Holmes's name and photo in our stories."

She noted that the Post doesn't use Holmes's name in stories about victims and that in the days following the shooting, editors were careful about where to place stories in the paper, "making sure that items about the investigation were as far as possible from stories about the victims and the impact of the shooting on the community."

"But," she added, "there are days...when the news is about James Holmes and we must use his name, and we must photograph him and his parents. The court proceedings are about him and the progress, however incremental, of his prosecution, and must be documented. This is painful and unfamiliar territory for the survivors, but the alleged shooter survived to be tried."

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34 comments
Jeremy Coss
Jeremy Coss

Yes, they should. All it does is glorify the killer and give him notoriety. This is why more crazies are coming out. They want their names to be mentioned and everyone to know who they are.

Christopher Fish
Christopher Fish

When the story first broke about this douche bag I contacted my friends at 9News and asked them to stop using his image and his name. Thankfully they did. There is NO reason to give him the fame he was/is so desiring.

Teresa McGlohorn
Teresa McGlohorn

I think you should take is gd picture off. I don't want to see it, and Heidi Soudani, does not want to see it. That is what that psycho wants! GET IT OFF!!!

Roberta J Repasz
Roberta J Repasz

I believe that each of us has to be sensible & responsible. I, also, believe the general populace needs to be informed of the facts of such a terrible event and the perp., as well. The perp., however, should not have the ability to profit from his/her actions.

Dennis Scott
Dennis Scott

Nonsense. As long as the media is reporting facts they should just report the facts. Any form of censorship of the facts is fatal to an informed public and democracy. That the facts may be sensitive to some is understandable but is not a reason to censor any part of the facts. Period.

Che Harness
Che Harness

yes and no. fame is fleeting and people are forgetful. his "fame" is being used politically and monetarily and will be replaced at some point and he will be forgotten. Which is kind of sad because we will continue to put out quick feel-good measures, like gun control, that have no hope of solving the problems of violence in our country.

Dan Goble
Dan Goble

Show his photo after he is put down- other then that he has had his 15 min.

Brad Aerts
Brad Aerts

It seems as if your calling for copycats

Naomi Wolinsky
Naomi Wolinsky

in true WW fashion, stirring up the shit from the bottom of the pot.

Schittphaiç Magü
Schittphaiç Magü

Right, because in the minds of some overly sensitive jerkoffs, mere reporting equates to "glamorization." *rolling of eyes*

Schittphaiç Magü
Schittphaiç Magü

The media doesn't have to turn these killers into celebrities. There are many other antisocial, underachieving middle-class suburbanite Internet dweebs out there to ensure that theses killers' names live forever in infamy.

Deborah Watts
Deborah Watts

I believe James introduced himself to me, when we worked at the Pepsi center last year. HELLO!

Terry Richardson
Terry Richardson

Fuck you, westword. This question should've been asked months ago. If y'all were a good news source, you wouldn't have to ask this. Just take the lead and not show this idiot. But that's not how the westword operates.

Marc Babel
Marc Babel

Freedom of information. It will never happen.

Dan Brown
Dan Brown

Yes. The public has a right to know, but we also have a right to not have our infantile homicidal maniacs turned into media celebrities.

Bernard Saujon
Bernard Saujon

Will someone off this guy already so we don't have to see or hear about him anymore. I still do not understand why our hard earned money goes to keeping people like this alive.

Ryan Dearth
Ryan Dearth

So I guess Westword falls on the side that they should use this guy's photo and name as much as possible in order to drive traffic? That story read as though every major news source in Denver thinks perpetrators names' and photos should only be used when necessary in a story about that person. Yet, Ww does this story about journalistic ethics and the photo they've attached? James Holmes of course!

Terence Hayden
Terence Hayden

Yes. No more naming or images at all- got it! No start doing it Westword.

Gina Pietramale
Gina Pietramale

No. There's this thing called "Reporting the News." Good luck doing that without all the facts.

Ted Peterson
Ted Peterson

And yes, Westword, you are just asking the question. But grow some balls and maybe take a stance and NOT show photos. Hashtag newshypocracy.

Ted Peterson
Ted Peterson

Media outlets are getting just as much attention with these sorts of articles as what they are challenging. Makes me think of Rush Limbaugh's tactics... "I'm just asking questions!"

skylinkdave
skylinkdave

I won't share this because it contains the perpetrator's name and photo.

Jacob Morgan
Jacob Morgan

Yes. To much emphasis is placed on the killer and less on the victims and community. Notoriety leads to copycats as well.

Heather Curnett
Heather Curnett

Yes, yes & yes! It's not about those sick bastards. James Holmes is still everywhere. Why? Give us facts & be done with him. He is not worthy of glorification. The facts can be reported without continuing to put his name & face out there. Westword, take note please.

Fraudcop
Fraudcop

On the day that this horrible incident occured, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates made a couple of media releases to the hordes of reporters gathered at the scene.  On one briefing, Chief Oates gave additional information and said that the police department was not releasing the photograph of the suspect, Holmes, for investigative reasons.  A copy of a photo of him on an identification badge had been released several hours earlier by the University of Colorado Medical Center.  As I was watching the briefing on CNN, the INSTANT that Chief Oates said the PD would not be releasing the photo, the screen went into a split image, with the chief on one side and the CU photo of Holmes on the other.  Someone at CNN had his finger on the button to make this happen and was just waiting for the appropriate moment to show the chief that CNN didn't care about what the chief said about the photo and that they were going to do what they wanted.  What CNN did was clearly intentional.  The words to Don Henley's song "Dirty Laundry" fit the media like a glove.

Peace Will Win
Peace Will Win

you mean are you responsible for this partly? yes.

thetrainer090
thetrainer090

I see that even after people are saying to stop showing his picture and saying his name. The media is still doing it. His picture comes up on every page of this article. They media really doesn't care what the public thinks. they are going to print and say what they want.

thetrainer090
thetrainer090

I see that even after people are saying to stop showing his picture and saying his name. The media is still doing it. His picture comes up on every page of this article. They media really doesn't care what the public thinks. they are going to print and say what they want.

 
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