Media coverage Must Change

We can do something about this blight of killings. First, we have to understand them. I have coined the term "spectacle murders," which I believe encapsulates what is really going on.


In 2016, I wrote a new epilogue to Columbine to address two key strategies to curtail this epidemic:

  1. Teen depression, the great unlearned lesson of Columbine. The missing element is screening.

  2. The media's role in providing the platform.

The media's role

It's pretty clear at this point that the media is providing a platform for these killers. The media did not start this, but we are definitely fueling it. (I have been really disgusted with how many journalists refuse to take any responsibility for this.)

To kick off the conversation, I wrote a Buzzfeed piece in 2013, which drew a lot of attention. It's called Let’s Stop Naming Mass Shooters, which is a bit of a simplification (it's a headline), and I considered this an obvious first step. (Actually running images of the killers is more important, but much harder to get TV to address.) I debated the piece with Jeff Greenfield on CNN's Reliable Sources, though I found that a highly frustrating exchange.

Anderson Cooper has been the leader in this effort, and I've discussed it with him on his show several times. I also got into an argument about it on Anderson's show when guest host John Berman defended media coverage.


I can only provide a thumbnail of the argument her, but you can read an excerpt of the epilogue, where I discuss these ideas in much greater depth. (At the excerpts page, scroll down to the epilogue.)​

Origin story

Columbine book, Parkland, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold


Birth of a


Dave Cullen
Media Inquiries

© Dave Cullen 2019 /

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"Like Capote's In Cold Blood, this tour de force gets below the who and what of a horrifying incident to lay bare the devastating why."

— People

Parkland Birth of a Movement MFOL March For Our Lives Marjory Stoneman Douglas High fence
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