Covering Mass Shootings: Journalists’ perceptions of coverage and factors influencing attitudes

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Law and Justice

Publication Date



Using data from a national survey of US newspaper journalists (N = 1318), this study examines attitudes toward news coverage of mass shootings. Following Shoemaker and Reese’s hierarchical model, the analysis also considers how individual characteristics, journalistic practices, and organizational factors influence these attitudes. Participants generally agreed that coverage had become routine. Journalists were largely supportive of coverage of perpetrators and were ambivalent about acknowledging a relationship between media coverage and a contagion, or “copycat,” effect. A participant’s age was generally the strongest predictor of attitudes toward media reporting on mass shootings. Findings also indicate differences in attitude according to job title, role perception, and whether or not a journalist had covered a mass shooting. A majority of respondents appeared to favor traditional, “neutral” approaches to coverage of mass shootings; however, journalists also wanted to see more comprehensive reporting, including coverage of solutions and community resilience.


This article was originally published in Journalism Practice. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Journalism Practice


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