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Does Media Mass Shooting Coverage Focus Too Much on People Involved?

What is the role of journalists mass shootings, and how can they responsibly report on cases like the shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo? University of Delaware Prof. Dannagal Young studies the impact that news stories have on the public. Her research looks at whether the media has a bias in favor of covering specific events and individual people, instead of looking more broadly at what leads to mass shootings, NPR reports.

This difference is called episodically framed stories versus thematically framed stories.

Young says, "If you tell a news story about individual people, individual problems ... is it possible that you're actually going to encourage those readers and listeners to attribute responsibility and look for solutions at the level of the individual in the story?" Young also has seen much thematically framed coverage that looks at the history of gun control, rates of gun violence broken out by state, etc. Overall, the coverage of Uvalde so far has focused on individuals involved, not gun violence as an epidemic, Young says. She tells NPR, "The question that I wish that all journalists would always ask themselves is: What is going to help Americans understand not just this day, but this broader issue? What is going to help them figure out what action they might be able to take? What legislation might be able to come about? Those are the questions that need to be asked."


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