06/22/2015 08:23 am ET Updated Jun 22, 2016

How Much Attention to Give Dylann Roof? Do Journalists Decide?


There is no perfect answer to how much attention to give Dylann Roof. He is cruel, he is a racist, he is evil. He is the news so we need to report the news and name him. We do not want to make him a celebrity for copycats -- that is a certainty -- but of course we report the news.

The victims? We give the dignity to the victims by reporting what happened. Reporting about them honors them. Their lives mattered -- they mattered to all of us. The cruelty is indescribable and words are inadequate to console. The best we can do for the victims and their families is responsible journalism.

The perplexing question is how much should we report about Dylann Roof? Where is the line between news and too much (making him that celebrity that no one wants to make him)?Determining that line is not a science but an attempt at good judgment.

If reporting about Roof will lead to some good solutions to real problems, we should keep going. If, as noted above, it runs the risk of creating copycats, we need to report but not over report.

Of course we must also report the other news -- for instance the two killers on the run from the maximum security prison in NYC. We must put a giant spotlight on that news story since it is an active manhunt and they may kill on the run. In manhunts, the media plays a big role. The media will help catch those two fugitive killers since someone may see the news... see them... and make that all important 9-1-1 call.

I assume the above discussion is being had in every news room.