Author(s) Duwe, Grant
Year 2000
Title Body-Count Journalism: The Presentation of Mass Murder in the News Media
Published in Homicide Studies Vol. 4, No. 4
Pages 364–399
DOI 10.1177/1088767900004004004
Abstract This study analyzes coverage by newspapers, network television news, and newsweekly magazines of mass killings that occurred between 1976 and 1996. The findings indicate that although virtually all of the mass murders were locally newsworthy, only a small minority were nationally newsworthy. The widely publicized mass killings were more likely to involve large numbers of fatal and wounded victims, stranger victims, public locations, assault weapons, workplace violence, interracial victim-offender relationships, and, to a lesser extent, older offenders and gun use. Given that the high-profile incidents were the most extreme and atypical mass murders, it is argued that the overemphasis placed on these massacres is part and parcel of the news media's attempt to maximize the size of their audience and therefore their profits by catering to the public's fascination with rare and sensational acts of violence. This study concludes by discussing the implications that these results have for the social construction of mass murder.
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