What Do You Call The Guy Shooting People?

Flowchart design by Melissa Small

So you need to write about a mass shooting? Well, that’s no surprise; with an average of one a day, it’s a wonder your editor even considers it newsworthy.

But here you are, and you have a dilemma: What do you call the guy with the gun?

Before you know anything about him (except that it will almost certainly be a him), shooter is probably a safe bet. But as soon as authorities piece some information together, you have a decision to make. Gunman? Terrorist? Firearms enthusiast?

It can be hard to think for yourself! That’s why, as part of The Establishment’s Word Watch series, we’ve put together this handy-dandy guide to the mainstream media’s rules for which terms to use. Just follow this flowchart and you’ll be ready to shape public opinion into a pre-manufactured mold in no time.

flowchart big

Flowchart design by Melissa Small