The purpose of the present study is to determine how news stories about mass shootings are framed when reporting on a lone shooter. Data obtained revealed specific biases in news stories about mass shootings and perpetrators of color. National print media included in the study were USA Today, the Washington Post, The New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Los Angeles Times. Data shows that of the N = 170 stories, 75% of the stories involving a white shooter included the word or references to hero while shootings that involved lone shooters of color using the hero was found in 25% of the stories (P < .001). Results from this research are discussed in terms of their implications and significance for future research.
Barlow, M. H., Barlow, D. E., & Chiricos, T. G. (1990). Economic Conditions and Ideologies of Crime in the Media: A Content Analysis of Crime News. Crime and Delinquency, 41, 3-19. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011128795041001001
Butler, A. (2015). Shooters of Color Are Called “Terrorists” and “Thugs.” Why Are White Shooters Called “Mentally Ill”?
Dixon, T. L., & Linz, D. (2000b). Overrepresentation and Underrepresentation of African Americans and Latinos as Lawbreakers on Television News. Journal of Communication, 50, 131-154. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2000.tb02845.x
Dixon, T. L., Azocar, C. L., & Casas, M. (2003). The Portrayal of Race and Crime on Television Network News. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47, 498-523.
Entman, R. M. (1994b). Representation and Reality in the Portrayal of Blacks on Network Television News. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 71, 509-520.
Fawcett, K. (2015). How Mental Illness Is Misrepresented in the Media: Insidious Portrayals on TV Shape Perceptions about Real-Life People with Psychological Disorders. U. S. News & World Report, 16 April 2015.
Howard, T. C., Flennaugh, T. K., & Terry, C. L. (2012). Black Males, Social Imagery, and the Disruption of Pathological Identities: Implications for Research and Teaching. Educational Foundations, 26, 85-102.
Krippendorff, K. (1989). Content Analysis. In E. Barnouw, G. Gerbner, W. Schramm, T. L. Worth, & L. Gross (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Communication (Vol. 1, pp. 403-407). New York: Oxford University Press.
McCauley, C., Moskalenko, S., & Van Son, B. (2013). Characteristics of Lone-Wolf Violent Offenders: A Comparison of Assassins and School Attackers. Home, 7.
McGinty, E. E, Webster, D. W., Jarlenski, M., & Barry, C. L. (2014). News Media Framing of Serious Mental Illness and Gun Violence in the United States, 1997-2012. American Journal of Public Health, 104, 406-413. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301557
Milner, A. N., George, B. J., & Allison, D. B. (2016). Black and Hispanic Men Perceived to Be Large Are at Increased Risk for Police Frisk, Search, and Force. PLoS ONE, 11, e0147158. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147158
Reiner, R., Livingstone, S., & Allen, J. (2003). From Law and Order to Lynch Mobs: Crime News Since the Second World War. In P. Mason (Ed.), Criminal Visions: Media Representations of Crime and Justice (pp. 13-32). Portland: Willan Publishing.
Smile, C., & Fakunle, D. (2016). From “Brute” to “Thug:” The Demonization and Criminalization of Unarmed Black Male Victims in America. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 26, 350-366. https://doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2015.1129256
Surette, R. (1998). Media, Crime, and Criminal Justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Washington Post, “Md. Student Is Accused of Bat Attack on Teacher.” Oct. 21, 2005. Washington Post, “Teenager is Arrested in Slaying of Lawyer’s Wife.” Oct. 21, 2005. Washington Post, “Baby Injured.” Oct. 29, 2005.
Weiss, A., & Chermak, S. M. (1998). The News Value of African American Victims: An Examination of the Media’s Presentation of Homicide. Journal of Crime and Justice, 21, 71-88. https://doi.org/10.1080/0735648X.1998.9721601