Consult half a dozen different outlets and you’ll find half a dozen descriptions of the way mass murders “are.” It’s a cheap way to boost traffic and journalists should learn to restrain themselves until more information becomes available. The best profile of Holmes so far comes from The Denver Post, which did some actual reporting in order to gather a few actual facts about him, drawing on a self-description he wrote last year in an apartment application and interviews with his neighbors. It may not be as exciting as armchair psychiatry, but it’s far more reliable, and therefore far more revealing.

 

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.