Sources Say … He May Have Been Depressed and Angry: A Case Study and Content Analysis of Mental Illness Sources Used in Newspaper Coverage of Mass Shootings in 2015
Description: The increase of mass shootings in the U.S. has amplified news reporting on mental illness as a possible factor in the shootings despite no evidence linking the two issues. Sources used to explain mental illness in stories that explore the motivations of mass shooters affect audience perception. Through a qualitative content analysis of local newspaper coverage of five U.S. mass shootings in 2015, journalists linked mental illness as a possible motive through sources who were not qualified to treat or diagnose mental illness. Journalists also ignored professional guidance from the Associated Press on mental illness reporting in the context of mass shootings. Additionally, journalists assumed the audience was knowledgeable of mental illness in general terms and specific diagnoses. These findings indicate coverage of mass shootings includes inaccurate information about shooters' motives, and it also continues to frame mental illness as dangerous.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Fellows, Jacqueline L
Partner: UNT Libraries