Remember the name of that lowlife who killed nine people at an Oregon community college a few weeks ago? You don’t? Good.
That could mean the No Notoriety movement is working. And now it has a new major supporter with People magazine becoming the first major publication to adopt a No Notoriety policy. “We will be careful to avoid giving individuals who commit or attempt these crimes more notoriety,” said People editor Jess Cagle in an open letter to readers. That’s what the campaign is all about: urging media outlets to stop the gratuitous use of the name and photographs of rampage mass killers — thereby denying them the infamy and recognition they covet by annihilating as many people’s loved ones as they can. Instead, the group behind the campaign — which Deadline supports — urges the media to focus on the victims and heroes of the shootings.
“Not only is People magazine telling copy cat shooters that they will not be receiving fame in this way anymore, but it will stop the re-victimization of those of us who are directly affected and will place the attention on the victims and the heroes which is where it should be,” said Caren Teves, who started the effort along with her husband Tom after the murder of their son, Alex, in the Aurora Theater on July 20, 2012. Seventy families from some of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history have endorsed the No Notoriety effort as has the International Police Assn., the FBI’s elite ALERRT team which trains agents in active shooter response (and also has the Don’t Name Them campaign). “We all applaud Jess Cagle’s leadership and understanding of this media issue,” said Teves. “Taking away the known motivating factor of infamy is one of several important steps in eliminating our country’s epidemic of horrific mass shootings.”
Founded in the wake of the theater tragedy that ended 12 lives and wounded 70 others in Aurora, CO, the No Notoriety campaign is “dedicated to reducing senseless loss of life caused by acts of mass violence that are driven by an individual’s desire for notoriety.” What might strike some people as a no-brainer actually is quite the opposite: Just watch any cable news outlet’s coverage of the next mass shooting and its aftermath and count how many times they mention the shooter and show his photo. It’s how we got to know and remember the names of the Columbine shooters, the Sandy Hook monster and all the others. Maybe going forward, we won’t.