Public officials and advocates for victims often ask journalists to refrain from naming the individual behind a heinous act. This is a bad idea and here’s why:
- When you name an individual and tell his story, you give people important context for the backstory. If we had not named Seung-Hui Cho as the Virginia Tech assailant, his teachers might not have come forward to report they had voiced concerns about his mental health in the past.
- Knowing who was behind the gun allows us to identify trends.