A content analysis of word choice in social media news coverage of mass shootings
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This study examined how news organizations utilized Twitter to report on the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Employing the theories of framing and agenda setting, the researcher conducted a content analysis of tweets posted by five different news organizations -- both on the local and national levels. Findings showed that tweets from the five outlets in the wake of the shooting overwhelming focused on the topics of gun control and public policy. Twitter news coverage of the Parkland shooting from the selected news outlets was categorized into the following themes: tweets expressing sympathy or support, tweets related to victims of the shooting, tweets referencing the shooter, tweets regarding gun control/public policy, tweets regarding activism following the shooting, tweets discussing copycat threats and tweets that did not clearly fit any of the themes, which were then placed into an "other" category. Findings showed that Twitter coverage of the school shooting focused overwhelming on the topics of gun control and public policy over the three weeks following the shooting. The study also discovered that student activism assisted in setting the news media's agenda following the event.
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