THE RHETORICAL INFLUENCE OF THE MEDIA ON AMERICAN PUBLICS IN THE AFTERMATH OF MASS SHOOTINGS

Open Access
Author:
Humphrey, Katelyn Nicole
Area of Honors:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Rosa Eberly , Thesis Supervisor
  • Lori Bedell, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Mass shootings
  • Columbine
  • Sandy Hook
  • Orlando
  • Pulse Nightclub
  • gun violence
  • school shootings
Abstract:
Gun violence resulting in three or more deaths, or mass shootings, has become almost a daily occurrence in America’s news. After each shooting, media outlets immediately report on the facts, the history, and the potential policy changes that may arise. Newspaper media in particular though continue reporting for a longer period of time after the event. Using a method focused on Aristotelian topoi, this thesis includes the analysis of local and national newspaper articles for one year after three major mass shootings: Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Pulse Nightclub. The analysis of each case will answer questions about how newspapers report and what topics they most frequently report on, while distinguishing between local and national print news sources. The rhetorical analysis discusses what constants exist in mass shooting reporting and what aspects have evolved over a span of seventeen years. Throughout this thesis, I have worked to provide my readers with an understanding of the rhetorical influence that print media reports have on publics in the aftermath of mass shootings.