In the wake of the July 14 attack in Nice, France that left at least 77 people dead and more than 50 injured, the newspaper Le Monde said that it would no longer publish photographs of mass murderers in order to prevent “posthumous glorification.” In an editorial on Wednesday, the newspaper vowed to continue revisiting its approach to covering terrorist attacks and continually reevaluate what part they may play in the fetishization of such crimes. “These adjustments to the practices of an enemy against us all uses the tools of our modernity,” the editorial said.
The Guardian reports that numerous media outlets in France have also chosen a similar method of coverage attacks:
The television station BFM-TV and the Catholic newspaper La Croix said they had chosen the same course of action. “We made the decision last night to no longer show pictures of the terrorists until further notice,” BFM-TV editorial director Hervé Béroud told Agence France-Presse. “We have been thinking about this for some time. Our decision was speeded up by Nice, by the repeated tragedies.”
Europe 1 radio said it would not reproduce photographs of perpetrators of terrorist killings on its website and would not broadcast their names. The France 24 television channel is also expected to announce that it will no longer show the pictures in its broadcasts.
Not everyone agreed with the approach of banning names or images of perpetrators. The director of the state-managed France Télévisions called the decision “self-censorship” and argued that such bans were ridiculous in the era of social media. Other major French papers, like Le Figaro, will continue to publish names and photographs.
A recent New York Times report suggested that the constant coverage and wide publicity following mass shooting “may be providing troubled people already contemplating violence a spur to act.” Experts in the Times story pointed to the timing of recent attacks, particularly their tendency to come in quick succession, as evidence of a potential cluster effect.
It’s a debate, too, the American media has had among itself, particularly in the wake of the New York Daily News’ 2015 cover showing the murder of Virginia journalist Alison Parker. Whether or not the media has sway over individuals or even control over coverage of mass shootings (particular since news organizations have routinely pulled video of these events from social media) is certainly a debate without a clear answer.