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America's mass school shooting epidemic : a discursive analysis of the battle over guns and mass violence in mainstream media
Anya P. Tudisco
May 11, 2016
Department or Program
This media analysis investigates trends in media coverage of the four deadliest and highest profile mass school shootings that have occurred in the United States since the creation of the 24-hour news cycle in 1980. The thesis analyzes the major discursive themes and dominant messages communicated to the American public in the wake of the school massacres at Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech University in 2007, Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, and Umpqua Community College in 2015. This thesis identifies a distinction between media discourse centered upon explanatory factors and media discourse founded in the remembrance of the victims and communities affected. I argue media coverage following these mass school shootings presents an image of the nation as bonded through tragedy but in conflict over explaining the causes and solutions to these mass shootings. This can therefore help to explain public and political paralysis around collective action to preventing the continuation of this fatal phenomenon.