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Thursday, April 24, 2014 | Last updated: 7:27pm

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More focus should be on victims not motives of shooter



Dec. 14 will mark the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.

As we approach the one-year mark, more news stories about the shooter, Adam Lanza, are appearing. But this should be a time to remember the victims, not feed into the late gunman’s notoriety.

In today’s society, everyone always wants to know why a person would do something like this. What is the scientific explanation for the 20-year-old man’s actions? It couldn’t possibly just be because of mental illness, or because some people are simply bad. No, he had to have motives.

Around the anniversary of the shooting, many feel it is the appropriate time to dig up all of this dirt. There have been reports investigating how Lanza took his motives to the grave with him and more stories are arising regarding how Lanza’s actions were entirely unpredictable and no one could have seen this coming.

The heartache from losing a loved one never gets easier, but constantly being reminded that a year ago the violent acts of a stranger took your loved one must make you relive the whole tragedy.

From school shootings to the Colorado movie theater shooting, the American public is at a point that when heartbreak like this happens, we freeze in our tracks and mourn, but it’s safe to say we are no longer surprised.

The public has a right to know what happens around the country, and it’s the media’s job to inform its audience, but the way tragedies are being covered veers from the importance of the story to sensationalizing the villain to create a movie-esque report.

One headline from CNN read, “Sandy Hook killer took motive to his grave.” A New York Times column read, “Searching for Motives in Mass Killings,” which referred to Sandy Hook.

In response to the New York Times’ column, a letter to the editor asked, “Why are we always so obsessed with trying to learn ‘why’ mass killers kill?”

After the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., a petition was circulated to not stop media coverage of mass shooting altogether, but to ask news outlets to “use discretion and report the facts — not over-sensationalize the tragedy.”

The petition reached 54 signatures.

The “proud Colorado native” who started the petition believes this can be achieved with five methods: by focusing on the community and survivors and highlighting the first responders’ actions, discontinuing the over-repetition of details, discontinuing broadcast of photos of the suspect to remove the power of fame, practicing accurate reporting and reasonable caution before spreading harmful rumors and limiting coverage of the suspect’s role without depriving the story of the facts.

It is more important to focus on the effect this has on the community, survivors and those who helped fight.

Time Magazine came out with a different report from what other news outlets have been focusing on. It read, “Trying to make ordinary sense out of these extraordinary crimes is fruitless — and ultimately only encourages more violence.”

The State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice released a report in late November closing the yearlong investigation of Lanza, leaving those wanting to make sense of it all disappointed.
While the report did mention Lanza’s mental health problems, there was no mention of a motive.

Time Magazine’s headline: “There Is No Such Thing as a Motive for Mass Killings.” So it’s time to put this to bed, let the families be and move on. It’s time to mourn and remember the lives lost too soon at Sandy Hook, not continue with the investigations of Lanza’s mental health or feed into the media’s tendency to sensationalize tragedies.

Ashley T. Powell is a journalism senior. Follow her @ashleytaylar.


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