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Media Coverage of School Shootings: A Distortion Analysis of Incident and Perpetrator Characteristics

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: Online Dated: November 2023
Tiana Gaudette; Eve S. Petrie; Steven M. Chermak; Joshua D. Freilich
Date Published
November 2023

This document reports on a research study that used a distortion analysis to better understand why, through empirical data, some school shootings receive more media coverage than others and what school shooting characteristics might attract more media attention.


Media outlets tend to cover rare events like school shootings. However, some school shootings receive more media coverage than others, and little is empirically known why, or what school shooting characteristics might attract greater media attention. This study addresses this gap and conducts a distortion analysis using data from The American School Shooting Study (TASSS), a national, open-source database. TASSS includes all publicly known shootings that resulted in at least one injury on K-12 school grounds in the United States between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 2016. The findings reveal that school shooters with a criminal record, who have psychological issues, committed a shooting post-Columbine, and who injured or killed more victims received more coverage. (Published Abstracts Provided)