From “The Loss of the Innocents” to “Crisis Actors”: Media Portrayal of Rampage School Shootings From 1998-2021
As rampage school shootings continue to occur in the United States, media coverage of such shootings continues to evolve. Media is a powerful force for how people form their understandings, opinions, and beliefs and, at least in part, the types of media they consume, it is important to understand how rampage school shootings are conveyed to the public. These shootings go through what is known as an “Issue-Attention Cycle” (Downs 1972) as coverage progresses. Using content analysis, this thesis examines New York Times articles covering nine rampage school shootings from 1998-2021 to see both how media coverage changes over the span of a news cycle and how coverage has evolved over the span of twenty-three years. After analyzing 608 articles, three main findings were present: how media coverage evolves, what is considered “newsworthy,” and how race plays a part in both how often and the framing around rampage school shooting coverage. While coverage both over time and within a news cycle begins with inquisition over the individual rampage school shooting, the shooting eventually is situated as a social problem and conversations begin to look at institutional changes to prevent future shootings. This study adds to the growing research on rampage school shootings, providing an updated analysis of New York Times portrayals of school shootings up to 2021.
Date of Degree
Master of Arts (MA)
Sociology/College Teaching Emphasis
Sociology and Corrections Department
Humanities and Social Sciences
Greene, J. E. (2023). From "The Loss of the Innocents" to "Crisis Actors": Media portrayal of rampage school shootings from 1998-2021 [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/1291/