Covering Mass Shooters: A Qualitative Review of Journalistic Practice and Perspective
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As the issue of frequent mass shootings continues to plague America, increased attention is being given to the way shootings are covered in the press. Within the last five years, concern has arisen that news coverage about shooters could actually incentivize future shootings, which raises a major point of concern for journalists who seek to minimize harm resulting from their duty to inform the public. Through a series of qualitative interviews, this thesis examines the opinions of news reporters and editors related to that hypothesis in order to identify the purpose and potential consequences of covering a shooter from a journalistic perspective. This research unveils a number of reporting obligations and ethical considerations to be deliberated when covering future mass shootings. This research clearly establishes that reporters and editors across the country are constantly striving to improve their coverage of mass violence, but also highlights the need for more investigation into the effects of different types of news coverage on the public, in order provide a basis of research from which decisions about future news coverage can be made.