Going Nameless and Faceless

Going Nameless and Faceless

By Angela Morris (Editor & Publisher, January 2019)

There’s mounting evidence of a contagion effect in media coverage of mass shootings and school shootings, but experts say that most journalists know nothing about the research. Victims’ advocates and academic scholars who urge media reform have said the media is doing better at reporting more about victims, survivors and the community, but they feel frustrated by their lack of progress in getting the press to limit the use of mass shooters’ names and images. Because reporters and editors know that reporting about mass shooters can help society by highlighting problems and potential solutions, it’s key that journalists themselves start a discussion about how to fulfill their duty to society, while also limiting the harmful effects of mass shooting coverage.

This article originally published in Quill in June 2018, and was republished in Editor & Publisher in January 2019.

Do journalists deserve some blame for America’s mass shootings?

Do journalists deserve some blame for America’s mass shootings?

By Angela Morris (published in Quill, Summer 2018

The reporter who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for feature writing initially thought she was in Charleston, South Carolina, to chronicle the lives of nine church-goers who died in 2015 when a stranger with a Glock murdered them while they were praying.

The names, mug shots and one paragraph each about the lives of those nine victims did make it into Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s story, “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof,” published in GQ in September 2017.

But the rest of her over 12,000-word story told the tale of their killer instead. Ghansah spared nothing in tracking down intimate details of the shooter’s life, coming from his childhood friends, elementary school principal, church minister, co-workers, teenage pals and more. The reporter went back to his birth, telling of the isolation of his school years as a low-income white boy, can’t-get-out-of-bed depression, rancid racism, incessant preparations for killing African-American parishioners and his death sentence for a federal hate crime conviction.

It’s an incredible work of journalism, but also an example of the type of mass shooting coverage that’s maddening to advocates who, for years, have tried to little avail to persuade the media to stop publishing the names and images of mass shooters.

This article first published in Quill Magazine in June. It’s available for reprints. Contact me for details.


South Texas Law Prof Becomes Go-To Guy for National Media

As a rock star among the legal media, Houston law professor Josh Blackman is on a roll.

He’s long been media savvy, but it reached a fever pitch this year as reporters from some of the biggest news organizations called on him to comment about President Donald Trump’s orders and actions dealing with the law and the courts.

Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, tracked 116 news shows and articles that quoted or cited him in just the first two months of 2017. They came all the way from local newspapers and radio stations to such national media as The New York Times, NPR and CNN, to international media such as The Globe and Mail of Canada and the BBC World Service.

Published on TexasLawyer.com on April 10, 2017.

PDF: South Texas Law Prof Becomes Go To Guy for National Media _ Texas Lawyer