Guidance Reminders As We Cover The Florida School Shooting

- The gun or guns will almost surely NOT be “automatic” weapons. They almost surely will NOT be “assault” weapons. Guidance: here  and here  and here

- Do remind listeners/readers that this is a developing story and things such as number of casualties are likely to change.

Go easy on superlatives. “First,” “biggest,” “worst” are among words to avoid or only use after careful consideration.

- When it’s known for sure, the name of the shooter does NOT have to be endlessly repeated. Biographical details are important, but repeating the name over and over runs the risk of glorifying the shooter in some eyes.

- Why are we talking about the suspect’s “adoptive parents?” Unless there’s something about his story and adoption that hints at why he did this, the fact that he was adopted isn’t relevant and it’s quite disturbing to parents who have created families by adopting to hear that framing. It sounds to them like we’re saying something about adoption.

- Explain the numbers we’re hearing about “18 school shootings so far this year.” They weren’t all “mass shootings.” Some involved accidental discharges. Context is necessary.

- Please continue to refer to the suspect as a “19-year-old” and NOT as a teenager. As we’ve said in other cases, once you’re 18 you’re an adult. Reserve “teenager” for those 17 and under.

- Please eliminate “under fire” or other such phrases from headlines and teasers.

(“Memmos;” Feb. 15, 2018)


February 15, 2018

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