Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4725-8132

Year of Publication

2020

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Communication and Information

Department/School/Program

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Jeannette Sutton

Abstract

Increasing research supports the presence of a contagion effect among mass shootings, wherein extensive media coverage of mass shootings may inspire future mass shooters, many of whom view this coverage as a form of reward. Furthermore, two awareness campaigns–one from the private sector and one from law enforcement–have advocated against naming and depicting the shooter in media coverage of mass shootings. This study is theoretically grounded in second-level agenda-setting as the basis for a content analysis of three days of television news coverage of two mass shootings in the United States (one in El Paso, Texas and one in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) across six channels. News segments were coded for how often they depicted the shooter, first responders, victims (those in the facility during the shooting who survived the event), deceased, and the shooter’s manifesto. Segments were also coded for whether they contained graphic imagery and whether they depicted dead bodies. The results of this analysis show that while the shooter was the least frequently depicted of the individuals coded, mentions of the shooter reached a mean of 8 depictions per segment. Findings on graphic image use suggest that in the shooting where use of graphic imagery is high (El Paso), it was significantly higher on the first two days of coverage than on the third.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.347

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