The value of media attention for mass killers

by on January 16, 2018 at 1:25 pm in Current Affairs, Data Source, Law | Permalink

This study compared perpetrators of seven mass killings during 2013–2017 with more than 600 celebrities over the same time period. Findings indicate that the mass killers received approximately $75 million in media coverage value, and that for extended periods following their attacks they received more coverage than professional athletes and only slightly less than television and film stars. In addition, during their attack months, some mass killers received more highly valued coverage than some of the most famous American celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Jennifer Aniston. Finally, most mass killers received more coverage from newspapers and broadcast/cable news than the public interest they generated through online searches and Twitter seems to warrant. Unfortunately, this media attention constitutes free advertising for mass killers that may increase the likelihood of copycats.

That is from an Adam Lankford paper, via Rolf Degen.

1 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 1:37 pm

“Findings indicate that the mass killers received approximately $75 million in media coverage value.”
You can’t buy that kind of coverage.

“Unfortunately, this media attention constitutes free advertising for mass killers that may increase the likelihood of copycats.”

“In addition, during their attack months, some mass killers received more highly valued coverage than some of the most famous American celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Jennifer Aniston.”
But what if Brad Pitt killed Tom Cruise, and Johnny Depp and Jennifer Aniston were the witnesses?

2 dearieme January 16, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Killing little Mr Cruise is the opposite of a mass killing.

3 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Is it mass ressurrection?

4 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 5:59 pm

I’m a jolly ol’ hornblower.

5 clockwork_prior January 16, 2018 at 1:38 pm

‘Findings indicate that the mass killers received approximately $75 million in media coverage value’

Sometimes, this web site really causes one to really have to wonder about the idea of ‘value’ that some people have.

6 Mark Thorson January 16, 2018 at 7:27 pm

I can see there’s a need for a new social media website for mass killers and their fans. Maybe a new cryptocurrency for purchasing guns and ammo. Think of it as Facebook and Amazon rolled into one, for mass killers. I need to work on my elevator pitch. This is a winner!

7 ladderff January 16, 2018 at 9:48 pm

Go away.

8 Tyler R January 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm

“Free advertising” … with the implicit cost of imprisonment, becoming a pariah, and possibly death.

9 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 2:00 pm

If he hadn’t put a bullet in Martin Luther King, just who would James Earl Ray be today? The smart money says: an obscure individual from the Illinois-Missouri borderlands who’d been remanded to state prisons 3x for felonies ‘ere he was 40 years old (and who knows how many between that point in time and his death).

10 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 3:43 pm

It is a symbiotic affair. If Lee Harvey Oswald hadn’t put a bullet in Kennedy, would we remember Kennedy anymore than we remember Polk? Would he have been remembered as the president who lost Cuba?

11 Judah Benjamin Hur January 16, 2018 at 10:06 pm

Polk is one of the greatest Presidents in US history and will be remembered thousands of years from now.

12 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Most of these folks don’t care about dying (or imprisonment, usually they kill themselves right after), and what we call a pariah they call being famous/heard/seen for the first time in their miserable lives.

13 Tyler R January 16, 2018 at 2:19 pm

“Any publicity is good publicity”?

14 Jay January 16, 2018 at 1:40 pm

I think it was a Malcolm Gladwell book that accounted for a story where a high-profile suicide occurred on an island and once the media printed a story there was a spike in suicides by others. Thanks media.

15 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Very Straussian.

“The value of media attention for mass killers (and other dangerous people)”

16 Hazel Meade January 16, 2018 at 2:29 pm

Some things cannot be bought with money, but only with media attention.

17 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 1:56 pm
18 Erik Larsen January 16, 2018 at 1:56 pm

Despite the fact that the characteristics of the coverage – for obvious reasons – differ a lot between mass killers and celebrities, the seven mass killers are most likely selected on their extreme level of media attention (why is the ‘Nice, France truck attacker’ selected but not the ‘November 2015 Paris attacks’? I mean, the latter had more casualties!). Accordingly, I would be cautious with making any inferences based on that study.

19 Mulp January 17, 2018 at 12:06 am

Why not price the media value of getting President Bush as your spokesman for bin Laden after 911. The recruitment of others looking for similar media coverage could not have been higher.

20 Aretino January 16, 2018 at 2:06 pm

So why doesn’t the media refrain from publishing the name and face of mass killers, to reduce the fame motivation for future mass killers?

21 Borjigid January 16, 2018 at 2:21 pm

Prisoner’s dilemma.

22 dearieme January 16, 2018 at 2:59 pm

The media would happily form a cartel in their own interest but not in the public interest.

23 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 4:01 pm

As would you and everyone else this side of Mother Teresa.

24 Jay January 16, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Media are greedy corporate wh0r3s in the same way they accuse banks of acting. I think one of the Progger jingoisms is Profit over People.

25 Hazel Meade January 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Thank God someone finally said it. Journalists need to stop claiming they’re performing a special public service. They’re just selling tabloids.

26 thfmr January 16, 2018 at 6:00 pm

We’ve already seen a media agreement to stop showing black mugshots, and instead promulgate theories of endemic police violence against blacks. Was that a good idea?

27 Rob January 16, 2018 at 2:07 pm

I took a class called Terrorism and Counter-terrorism in graduate school that completely changed my views. This is the exact business model of terrorism, and yes it is a business model. Raising capital, building a brand and developing customer bases are the key activities of any terrorist organization.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/06/media-loves-comparing-al-qaeda-corporation/352132/

28 Tyler R January 16, 2018 at 2:20 pm

+1

29 Dave January 16, 2018 at 2:12 pm

But who has caused more societal harm: the Kardashians or the mass killers?

30 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 2:19 pm

And why can’t one of these killers take out the Kardashians?

31 Borjigid January 16, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Why can’t the Kardashians take out a mass killer?

32 Potato January 16, 2018 at 4:53 pm

Too busy covering for OJ?

33 Niroscience January 16, 2018 at 2:30 pm

Yeah, post-Kim Kanye’s work is a lot worse.

34 Hazel Meade January 16, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Think of the branding potential. Ted bundy commemorative cups. Manson’s Own
steak knives.

35 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 2:31 pm

It’s so easy but I have to: Reverend Jim’s Tastee Froot Juice! Jeff Dahmer’s cooking oil. Mohammed Atta box cutters.

36 Potato January 16, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Ted Bundy wigs?

37 rayward January 16, 2018 at 2:29 pm

“Unfortunately, this media attention constitutes free advertising for mass killers that may increase the likelihood of copycats.” Free advertising? Let’s see, which famous political candidate received lots of free advertising on the road to a highly unlikely victory. The best known criminal attorney in my sunbelt city once explained to me that there is no such thing as bad publicity (referring to the often negative publicity he would receive for defending bad guys).

38 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 2:32 pm

In which rayward reveals that he learns clichés we’ve all heard thousands of times by having them explained to him by local attorneys.

39 JWatts January 16, 2018 at 3:01 pm

+1

40 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 3:06 pm

But is it bad publicity for him?

41 rayward January 16, 2018 at 2:32 pm

Love After Lockup is a new television reality show about women who are attracted to criminals and the reality after the jailbird is set free. The point being that there is no such thing as bad publicity for a criminal.

42 Dick the Butcher January 16, 2018 at 2:41 pm

A couple hundred Hollywood westerns are based on gun fighters killing each other over reputation.

It’s in the Civil Rights Act of 1963. Everybody gets her/his 15 minutes of fame.

Advertising effects likely are less incentivizing or causative than ultra-violent movies and video games because media attention is after-the-fact when the mass murderer is either dead, in prison, or experiencing celestial sex with 72 virgins (with apologies to the LGTB community).

43 Hazel Meade January 16, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Fame inequality needs to be a thing. Next progressive cause.

44 Transnational Pants Machine January 16, 2018 at 3:23 pm

So the media, which delights in accusing others of making a profit by causing harm, is itself making a profit by causing harm?

I believe that would mean they are Useless Sacks of Crap, and that no sane person should put stock into what they say any more.

Now let that thought simmer in your head for no longer than 2 minutes, before you eject it and run off to tell us what the New York Times just printed! Hurry!!

45 Charbes A. January 16, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Thankfully, FOX and the New York Post are well-knkwn by the dignified and subdued manner they report tragedies.

46 Art Deco January 16, 2018 at 3:51 pm

They actually report the tragedies while other outlets are using those tragedies as a hook to propagate nostrums being peddled by Democratic members of Congress.

47 msgkings January 16, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Yeah like when an immigrant kills someone in San Francisco accidentally, Fox never uses that kind of tragedy to propagate nostrums being peddled by Republican presidents.

The best thing about Art’s posts aren’t the old-timey get-off-my-lawn thesaurus words, it’s the blatant hypocrisy.

48 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm

42 percent of Republicans believe accurate — but negative — stories qualify as “fake news”

https://t.co/nTDwGzh8xO

49 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 4:33 pm

During a House committee meeting, Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson said he feared that stationing 8,000 Marines on Guam would cause the island to “become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”

https://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/guamtip.asp

50 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Hank Johnson looks pretty wasted to me, but he is just one dude, and not a party on the rocks.

https://twitter.com/DKThomp/status/953368052476907527

Thread.

51 Dick the Butcher January 16, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Do you believe that (you left out “illegal”) immigrant should sue the woman’s estate?

Help me out, Spanky. How does a illegal immigrant, convicted felon (disbarred from possessing a gun) and five-times deported ‘accidently’ shoot to death a woman and “walk?”

A “San Francisco jury” says it all.

The only possibly positive aspects of this tragedy are that the murder victim lost her one life (apologies to Nathan Hale) for social justice and was a registered democrat voter.

52 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 6:31 pm

I believe the guy is in Federal custody, pending Federal charges, which is fine.

But it is possible that this is more like “Cheney shoots hunter” than “murder.”

Are you mad when all accidental shooters “walk?”

53 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 6:32 pm

“but he is just one dude, and not a party on the rocks.”

Yep, totally on the rocks. Not in charge of the Presidency. … And the Senate … And the House … And the majority of state legislatures.

Totally, totally on the rocks. Washed up. Completely irrelevant. Yep, that’s it.

54 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 6:43 pm

Buddy, how is that government shutdown looking?

Oh right, a sh*tbird president has got everybody talking about whether he said sh*thouse or sh*thole to describe 50-some countries with which we must trade, and work on national security. That includes Niger where 4 US soldiers died and a presume we are still working.

Everything is great.

55 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 3:57 pm
56 thfmr January 16, 2018 at 5:51 pm

Tangential but I learned today that much of the gun control movement has roots in Californians (Reagan no less!) trying to keep guns away from uppity blacks.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-winkler/mlk-and-his-guns_b_810132.html

How’s that twist your narrative?

57 Anonymous January 16, 2018 at 6:16 pm

I heard that much of gun control has roots in 189,718 firearm assaults per year (2016).

Gosh, I guess it could be either.

58 thfmr January 16, 2018 at 8:08 pm

Well it’s good thing MLK got denied his carry permit; otherwise someone may have suffered a firearm assault.

59 thfmr January 16, 2018 at 8:19 pm

From DoJ: “From 1993 to 2010, the rate of nonfatal violent
victimization committed by strangers declined 81%,
from 37.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12
or older to 7.1 per 1,000 (figure 1). Similarly, during
the 18-year period the rate of violence committed
by offenders known to their victims dropped 73%,
from 39.4 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12
or older to 10.5 per 1,000.”

What do you imagine was happening with gun ownership during this period? Must’ve been falling through the floor.

60 Mulp January 17, 2018 at 12:16 am

The number of gun free households has increased during that time in both number and share of households.

The median number of guns owned by each gun owner has risen rapidly.

If owning guns is protective, it’s because bullets are bouncing off all the guns wrapped around gun carriers.

61 Jimbino January 16, 2018 at 5:59 pm

And the ubiquitous public display of Ten Commandments and Christian crosses, as well as availability of bibles and horoscopes only encourages religious and other superstitious nuts.

62 anonymous reply to jimbino January 16, 2018 at 10:26 pm

Please describe, in a short paragraph, why anyone should think that you yourself, jimbino, are not a nut. Did you graduate community college, with pride in your heart?

Have you ever independently refuted a single metaphysical proposition favored by the Thomists, the Augustinians, or any of the independent Christian “nuts” who populate the world you imagine you, as a superior intellect, live in?

Feel free to reply with a witty quote from “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons”, if it makes you happy, but please do not believe that quoting the “Family Guy” or “The Simpsons” is a good use of your time. Learn some humility, my young friend. This is a beautiful world for those who seek the truth.

63 Ray Charbonneau January 16, 2018 at 6:39 pm

Creepy thought. Of course, the profits don’t go to the killers.

64 ohwilleke January 16, 2018 at 7:56 pm

The notion is that the killers are being paid in kind with the coverage. The coverage itself is the compensation.

65 chuck martel January 16, 2018 at 8:21 pm

Since sponsors must pay for television time, it apparently has a value related to the number of viewers. In the ’80’s obsessive crazy “Rock’in Rollen Stewart, installed himself at major televised sporting events where he could display his rainbow afro wig and John 3:16 sign or tee shirt while he hysterically jumped around in front of the cameras. Commentators at the time, and Stewart himself, gave estimates of the millions of dollars of television time that he had garnered through this tactic, although he was never able to put any of that value in the bank. Sadly, Stewart now occupies a prison cell in California, serving 3 consecutive life sentences for kidnapping. He refused to plead insanity. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollen_Stewart

66 Judah Benjamin Hur January 16, 2018 at 10:12 pm

One suggestion I have is that mass murderers who are only known for their killings (i.e. serial killers, not governmental leaders) should not be given biographical entries in encyclopedias such as Wikipedia. Their misdeeds should be listed as an event of some sort or categorized in some other way.

67 mike shupp January 17, 2018 at 12:16 am

Nah. I sit here and the name “Kim Kardashian” goes through my head and I smile. Twenty years from now, that’ll still be the case, even if the lady’s put on some poundage and wrinkles. I have my memories!

But I sit here and try to recall who it was who shot nine people in a black church congregation in some southern state a year or so back, and it takes a while to remember “Damian Root or something like that.”

Ill-fame is fleeting. As it deserves.

68 msgkings January 17, 2018 at 1:35 am

This might say more about you than a general principle. Many remember serial killers, as evidenced by the thread above, and elsewhere.

69 mike shupp January 17, 2018 at 3:22 am

And I am a happier man than you!

More seriously, it strikes me likely that Kim Kardashian is happier today than Damian Root,
and even happier than Damian Root in that brief period between his killings and his arrest. I’d even guess that Kim Kardashian would get along quite happily without knowing or caring for my regard while

70 mike shupp January 17, 2018 at 3:35 am

And I am a happier man than you!

— albeit, a more spastic typist than you! —

More seriously, it strikes me likely that Kim Kardashian is happier today than Damian Root, morally better than Damian Root, and much more worthy of remembering than Damian Root.

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