The paper of record

As often happens in the US, there have been more back to back mass shootings.

Tim Urban of Wait But Why fame has the right approach:

Any media or big social accounts that publish the shooter’s name, face, politics, or backstory are doing a really bad thing.

As he originally wrote in 2018:

After a shooting, I see 2 glaring discussion points: gun laws and the media’s practice of making every shooter a globally-famous martyr & underground hero to future shooters. But 99% of the outrage is on the former issue since the latter isn’t a key button in the tribal foodfight

To put this in perspective, both political parties in the US have been in power for about equal amounts of time over the past few decades. Despite the theatrics, one party always seems miraculously unable to affect any change when they’re in control of both the presidency and congress at the same time.

I suppose a Martian anthropologist would conclude this is some sort of ritual war dance where the speaker of the house and leader of the senate pretend to spar in order to generate wealth1 But I’m getting distracted. The point is, no matter who is in power in the United States, I wouldn’t expect serious changes to gun regulation.

That leaves us with Urban’s other point, which should be something much easier to control.

The New York Times has published the shooter’s name and is already starting to speculate about motives. There are breaking minute by minute updates and a story of the events written like a thriller novel.

None of that was necessary.

And the horde of bumper sticker liberals keep supporting the Times.

None of this is to say that the yellow press in the US is equally responsible for mass shootings as the gun culture. But we need to stop consuming low-quality, sensationalist journalism, such as the New York Times before we have any hope of making systemic change in the third largest country in the world.

Without a cultural shift away from the cult of breaking news, using each tragedy to push a partisan agenda2 and news as entertainment, we’re not going to build a better society. And unfortunately, I see the US exporting these trends to Europe.

  1. Amusingly enough there’s a Nancy Pelosi EFT, the humble public servant Mitch McConnell ain’t doing so bad either and there was the whole Covid stock thing 

  2. Wade into the partisan fray at your own peril: one side is claiming this proves the need for more guns and armed security everywhere, the other side somehow connecting this to the need to support the BLM movement