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Afterword: Is Mediatization a Useful Concept for Informing Practice in Journalism?
Volume 3 Issue 1 Jan , pp. Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Contributor Muschert, Glenn W. Sumiala, Johanna, editor. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references. This book contributes to the current academic discussion on school shootings by analysing this phenomenon in a broader context of mediatization in contemporary social and cultural life. Mediatized logic has the power to influence us as individuals communicating about the shootings and experiencing the shootings as victimizers, victims, witnesses or bystanders.
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In three sections, this book explores shootings from different, yet interconnected, perspectives: 1 a theoretical focus on media and school shootings within various sociological and cultural dimensions, specifically how contemporary media transform school shootings into mediatized violence; 2 a focus on the practices of mediatization, with emphasis on mediated coverage of school shootings and its political, cultural, social and ethical implications; and 3 an examination of the audiences, victims and witnesses of school shootings as well as organizations which try to manage these public crimes of significant media interest.
Subject Violence in mass media. Youth and violence. Bibliographic information. Browse related items Start at call number: LB Such a line of inquiry is important as violent entertainment media e. Additionally, mass shootings not only are abundant in the news, they also have appeared in popular media including television, film, and even music.
Collectively, the media also has the ability to impact the perceptions of school shootings, particularly as the coverage relates to things like fear of crime or even copycat or contagion effects. Keywords: media coverage , Columbine High School , Virginia Tech , Sandy Hook Elementary School , newspaper coverage , television coverage , social media , media framing.
In the aftermath of such a tragedy, coverage of the attack can last for hours or days; in the most extreme examples, such as the shooting at Columbine High School or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the media attention may be more prolonged. A common way in which to understand the breadth of news coverage of school shootings is to examine the number of newspaper articles that are published about the case.
Unlike the television news format, newspapers often have more space that they can allocate to covering a story, particularly if it is of high interest, and their news cycle allows for more time relatively speaking to be dedicated to story generation.
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While a minute newscast can only devote a fraction of the time to covering the case, a newspaper can offer not just longer articles, but also multiple stories throughout its pages. The Columbine shooting, for example, generated a considerable amount of media coverage in the form of newspaper articles. Coverage, however, was even more prevalent at the local level.
Interestingly, despite having higher death tolls, other school shootings failed to garner the same level of newspaper attention as Columbine, likely due to the fact that many perceive the attack to be the first of its kind.
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The shooting at Virginia Tech, which claimed the lives of 32 students and faculty members, garnered just 63 articles in The New York Times within the first 30 days Schildkraut, Other shootings, including the attacks at Westside Middle School Jonesboro, Arkansas in , Red Lake High School Minnesota in , and Northern Illinois University in , have generated even less coverage, particularly in national sources see, generally, Schildkraut, Disparities in news coverage of school shootings are evident not only in the newspaper format, but across television broadcasting as well.
Across evening news broadcasts, Columbine was the most covered crime story of the year, with stories being aired Robinson, In fact, Robinson found that the three major news networks ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted at least half of their nightly news airtime to covering the shooting for a full month after it happened.
A study by Maguire, Weatherby, and Mathers yielded similar findings, specifically that over a one-week period, 53 stories totaling nearly four hours of airtime were allocated just to covering Columbine. In comparing that amount of coverage to 13 other shootings collectively for the same one-week time period, the amount was nearly equitable between the two groups Maguire et al.
The introduction of hour cable news stations, beginning with CNN in Medina, , also has impacted how much media attention events like school shootings receive. This first was evident with the Columbine shooting, when CNN broke with live coverage from the scene, which they aired uninterrupted for six hours Muschert, Shows on these networks in the late afternoon and evening slots attracted, on average, between two and three million viewers Kondolojy, Due to its lack of constraints on the amount of content that can be generated, the Internet has become a newer form of media to which audiences turn for information in the minutes and hours after a school shooting.
Whether a news broadcast has gone off the air or a paper is in between prints, these organizations often turn to their affiliated websites to post additional information in the interim. This, in turn, drives millions of news consumers to these websites, as was evidenced following the Virginia Tech shooting. On the day of the attacks, however, CNN attracted 1. Both individually across specific events and collectively as a phenomenon, these numbers serve to underscore the importance of school shootings.
Both cases still managed to garner a considerable amount of media attention despite other high profile national stories including but certainly not limited to tensions in the Middle East, Hurricane Sandy, the shooting of Trayvon Martin, and the presidential election. It is not solely how much attention the media offers related to school shootings that is so influential on shaping audience perceptions about these events. Rather, it is what is being offered through the content itself that has the greatest effect on news consumers. Accordingly, researchers e. Media framing looks at the ways in which stories are organized and how certain themes or characteristics change or remain stable over time.
In their analysis of the media framing of the Columbine shooting, Chyi and McCombs introduced a two-dimensional measurement scheme through which to analyze news articles. Similarly, the time dimension enables the event to be discussed as something with relevance in the past focusing on the events leading up to the shooting , the present referring to the event itself and immediate aftermath , and the future referencing the broader, long range impact of the attack.
Further, the use of these frames varied across five-day intervals. Similarly, frame-changing also was found to occur on the time dimension of the coverage. By the last 10 days, however, these frames were absent, instead allowing the writers and thereby the audience to focus on the more long-range impacts of the attack.
Several additional studies e. First, the researchers highlighted the disparities in coverage, such as that the Columbine shooting alone received articles in The Times , whereas the remaining eight shootings totaled articles collectively. By looking at frame-changing by events, however, Muschert and Carr also were able to understand how these patterns changed as the phenomenon evolved. Specifically, early shootings in the data, such as the Pearl High School Mississippi shooting, primarily relied on the community frame, meaning that the coverage was focused on the impact of the attack on the community of Pearl, with little consideration of any potential reach to the nation at large.
The use of the community frame then began to wane over subsequent shootings, reemerging as the predominant space frame in the shooting at El Cajon High School in California. Interestingly, across the time spectrum, nearly all articles, regardless of shooting, were framed in the present. Schildkraut and Muschert compared the frame-changing of the Columbine coverage to that of the Sandy Hook shooting.
This provided an interesting juxtaposition since not only was Sandy Hook more lethal whereas the supplementary cases in the Muschert and Carr study had not been , but the shooting also was more spatial proximate to the paper being analyzed. The overall framing patterns indicated that the initial coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting began by considering the broader national impact of the shooting, then shifting to focus on the individual participants, before ultimately shifting to consider what the shooting meant for the community of Newtown and then the greater region i.
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Also consistent with the prior studies was the finding that across the time dimension, the coverage of Newtown most commonly only was considered for its immediate aftermath. In fact, of all of the shootings examined using this measurement scheme, only Columbine provided a considerable need for speculation as to what the event meant for the future; relying on the attack as a precedent allowed for others to focus on what they meant in the now.
Examining the media framing of news stories also allows for a more in-depth analysis to these specific dimensions.
Several studies, for example, have given greater consideration to the individual space frame to understand how the victims of these tragedies are discussed within the coverage. Muschert examined nearly stories from both print and broadcast media, uncovering several themes in the coverage: identification and description of the victims, details of their deaths, coverage of their memorial services, and social issues stemming from the shooting.
The analysis also revealed that the majority of the coverage of the victims was found earlier in the analysis within the first 10 days , then tapered off as more time passed. Additionally, differences existed between the intensity of the coverage various victims received, with some being featured more in the stories than others. In a separate article, Schildkraut compared the framing of the Virginia Tech shooting in both The New York Times , a hard news source, and the New York Post , which features more infotainment-type content.
With regard to the individual-level frame, several important findings were uncovered. Additionally, in both sources, the shooter, rather than the victims, was more heavily focused on. In fact, the Post highlighted the shooter nearly 10 times as often as any of the victims; The Times also referenced the gunman more than three times as frequently. In sum, these studies highlighted the disparate nature of reporting of school shootings, which can have far-reaching implications, particularly among the audience members who consume these stories. In a broad sense, the media have served not only to provide information to audiences about these events, but they also often are viewed as complicit in their aftermath.
Following a school shooting, many readers and viewers seek answers as to why the event has occurred in an attempt to identify warning signs to help avert the next rampage. Though violent media usually is cited the least as a potential causal factor, it still has played a starring role in the discourse in the aftermath of several high-profile shootings. One of the first instances where the issue about the influence of violent media on the perpetrators was with the Columbine High School shooting. Other researchers e. The film chronicles a pair of serial killers traveling across the country, embarking on a murder spree while simultaneously trying to avoid law enforcement Frymer, Violent video games also have been suggested to influence the shooters.
Narratives following early school shootings, including those at Columbine Sanders v. Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. Meow Media, Inc. More recently, first-person shooter video games, such as Call of Duty and its multiple sequels e. Despite mixed findings throughout the academic research pertaining to the correlation between video games and aggressive behavior, a number of scholars e.
What also escapes the discourse pertaining to mass shootings and violent media is just how many people consume it. Marilyn Manson, for example, has sold over 50 million albums worldwide Marilyn Manson, n. Similarly, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 sold over 11 million copies in its first week of release Kain, Despite that nearly all of these individuals never commit a school shooting, it does not end the speculation of their potential responsibility in the attacks. Further, it fails to stop members of the general public from blaming the media Newport, or demanding that it be regulated more heavily Carlson, ; Newport, These works not only span different forms of media, they also are integrated into works that target different audiences.
Doing so enables the media producers to highlight different aspects of the story, from the event itself to potential warnings signs to possible responses should one find themselves in a similar situation. Even before the Columbine shooting took hold of national attention, several popular teen dramas— Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2, Episode 3  and 7th Heaven Season 3, Episode 7  —featured school shootings in their plot lines.
Related School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age: 7 (Studies in Media and Communications)
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