Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-11-2016

Major Department or Program



Professor Alvaro Santana-Acuña


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.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Columbine High School Massacre (Littleton‚ Colo.‚ 1999) -- Columbine High School Shootings, Virginia Tech Shootings (Blacksburg‚ Va.‚ 2007), Sandy Hook Elementary School Massacre (Newtown‚ Conn.‚ 2012) -- Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting (Newtown‚ Conn.‚ 2012), Umpqua Community College Massacre (Roseburg‚ Ore.‚ 2015) -- Umpqua Community College School, Crime analysis -- United States -- Case studies, Television broadcasting of news -- United States -- Influence, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2016 -- Sociology Department

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Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis

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