We don’t have to do this. We can give such news incidents the coverage they deserve, somber and proportional, while respecting and embracing the victims. We have examples of such media restraint: In the ’80s, the world went through suicide clusters that spread via mass media. In the aftermath, the CDC developed sensible guidelines for media coverage of especially young suicides: Don’t romanticize it; don’t say they are now in a better place; emphasize that help is available and describe how; do not describe the method of suicide (practical ideation increases the odds of re-creation); do not create overexposure. Media followed these sensible guidelines, and indeed dampened the suicide contagion.
We can and should do this for terrorism and mass shootings. The guidelines won’t be the same, but the outlines are clear. Don’t go into loop mode. Mention names of killers sparingly. Avoid their photos, manifestos, and coverage they left behind for us except in brief mentions. Don’t overreact. Report news when there is news. Don’t retraumatize victims.