Actual Problems of
Economics and Law




DOI: 10.21202/1993-047X.15.2021.2.332-359

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Authors :
1. Jason R. Silva, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice
William Paterson University

The news media’s framing of mass shootings: gun access, mental illness, violent entertainment, and terrorism

Objective: to study the attitude of the US citizens towards mass shootings by studying the materials published in the news media.
Methods: dialectical approach to cognition of social phenomena, allowing to analyze them in historical development and functioning in the context of the totality of objective and subjective factors, which predetermined the following research methods: formal-logical, comparative-legal, and sociological.
Results: the present study uses a media distortion analysis to examine the news media’s coverage of mass shootings in America between 2000 and 2016. The author analyzes for frames used in the coverage of these events in New York Times, namely, gun access, mental illness, violent entertainment, and terrorism. It is shown how these four frames are used to present the materials on the mass shootings, how they changed over time, how the mass shooting characteristics influence the choice of each of the four frames, and how news media may distort the conception of the phenomenon under study.
Scientific novelty: findings illustrate gun access frames were the most commonly used of the four frames and increased the most over time. Mental illness frames were slightly more common than terrorism frames, although terrorism frames increased more over time. Violent entertainment frames were the least common overall. The most significant predictors of the four frames, across three comparative analyses, include Arab-descent perpetrators (terrorism), jihadist-inspired motivations (terrorism), mental illness (mental illness), school targets (gun access, mental illness, violent entertainment), and government targets (gun access, terrorism). A discussion of findings identifies news media distortions in mass shooting framing and provides implications for scholars, media outlets, and the public.
Practical significance: the main provisions and conclusions of the article can be used in scientific, pedagogical and law enforcement activities when considering the issues related to the forming of attitude to mass shootings in mass media. 


Keywords :
Mass shootings; News media framing; News media distortions; gun access; Mental illnesses; Violent entertainment; Terrorism

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Citation :
Silva J. R. The news media’s framing of mass shootings: gun access, mental illness, violent entertainment, and terrorism, Actual Problems of Economics and Law, 2021, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 332–359. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21202/1993-047X.15.2021.2.332-359

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