Dear News Media: I Don’t Want to Know

This is not my usual health-and-running post. But this is weighing heavily on my heart and mind, and this blog is the platform I have for expressing my thoughts. Back to your (ir)regularly scheduled shallowness later.


Dear News Media:

Yes, there was another horrible school shooting in my state today. It was terrible for all who were impacted, particularly the injured. The gunman is dead. The rest of the students are home safe now.

Please, don’t tell me any more.

Last I checked, the gunman hadn’t been identified. Please keep it that way. I don’t want to know his name. I don’t want to know what he looked like — whether he had vacant, careless eyes or classic boy-next-door good looks. I don’t want to see his face plastered across the front page of the newspaper, filling every T.V. screen at the gym, staring out at me from my RSS reader.

Don’t unearth his yearbook pictures, the ones of him running cross country or posing with the debate team, showing them on the screen while you quote his teammates who “still can’t believe he did this.” Don’t find out why he had a vendetta against his teacher — and if you do find out, please don’t tell me. (I didn’t even want to know these things about him, but you already told me).

You see, I don’t want to know these things because if know them, so does everyone else in the country. And now you’ve publicized and glorified another killer. Once you’ve publicized and glorified him, another sad, mentally ill kid starts wondering if a similar act of violence will solve all of his problems and bring him that same glory.

We learned in my earliest education classes that students who act out are seeking attention. Acting out gets them attention — negative attention, but to them, that’s better than no attention at all. A school shooting is “acting out” on the largest, most horrific scale. When you, news media, constantly report on every little detail of it, you are giving that desperately-sought attention. (Don’t believe me? Then please tell me why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold are still household names 14 years after their attack. The answer is you.) So stop. Please stop.

These senseless acts of violence are becoming deplorably common. I’m not saying it’s all your fault, media. But you definitely play a role. So please, stop fueling the fire. Don’t tell me any more. Because I don’t want to know it.

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