Three Youth-Weapons Cases: Last Week’s #2 News Story


Coverage of the Oct. 10 shootings at Success Tech Academy in Cleveland produced much media coverage, says the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Last week's news coverage included three separate incidents that made it a frightening week for random violence in the U.S. Together, the three incidents accounted for 8 percent of the total newshole last week as measured in PEJ's weekly News Coverage Index, which analyzes the content of the news from a range of media. That would have made them collectively the No. 2 story of the week. The Cleveland shooting filled 4 percent of the overall newshole, making it the fifth-biggest story of the week from Oct. 7-12.

There was also the Oct. 7 killing spree by a 20-year-old sheriff's deputy that took six lives in tiny Crandon Wi. (ninth-biggest story at 3%), an a Pennsylvania boy who had amassed a weapons arsenal in alleged preparation for an assault on his high school was arrested on Oct. 10. PEJ's News Coverage Index examines the news agenda of 48 different outlets from five sectors of the media. There were r patterns connecting the three frightening stories out of Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania last week. First, all three incidents primarily involved young people, many of high school age. Cable news again demonstrated its attraction to such breaking-news disasters beyond that of other media. It devoted a combined 14 percent of its time to the three stories. Once the facts of the cases were out, the media quickly began to search for motive, to try to make sense of the senseless.


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