Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed:
What plays into coverage of violence, both on campus and elsewhere? The answer, most experts agree, is a confluence of factors.
The obvious starting point — and one that media analysts say weighs
heavily on the minds of editors in all tragedies, not just school
shootings — tends to be the number of victims. Look at the math in the
three recent college cases: Virginia Tech (33 dead, dozens injured).
Northern Illinois (6 dead, 16 others injured). Louisiana Technical
College (3 dead, no injuries).
It’s also a matter of the news cycle. The Virginia Tech attacks took
place during a period of relative calm. These latest shootings occurred
in the midst of the busy election season. Some also point to the fact
that Virginia Tech came first and with the descriptor “worst shooting
rampage in modern United States history.” Since then, school and store
shootings have become somewhat regular occurrences.
“This has now become, sad to say, a genre of news story — the crazed
gunman in the school or work place or mall,” said Roy P. Clark, vice
president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute.