Officials provide media training to residents after mass shootings in Aurora and Toronto

After the recent mass shooting murder in Colorado, Aurora Police Department Sergeant Cassidee Carlson came up with a plan to “pair a public information officer with each victim’s family to help field the enormous number of phone calls they’re liable to receive.”

Toronto officials did the same after another mass shooting but City Councillor Adam Vaughan says that “it’s not about hiding information from the media, but rather getting residents comfortable with the onslaught of questions coming at a time when many people may be grieving.”

Tragedies & Journalists – A 40-page guide to help journalists, photojournalists and editors report on violence while protecting both victims and themselves.

According to Working With Victims and Survivors, a 2011 tip sheet from the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University, journalists should “respect their choice to have someone with them or to appoint a family or external spokesperson or even a media advisor.”

What do you think is more important, protecting victims from aggressive journalists, or defending the pulic’s right to know? Can we do both?

(Disclosure: The author of this post is a former Dart Center fellow.)

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