Semester of Graduation

May 2023


Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



There have been over 350 K-12 school shootings since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 (Cox et al., 2023). Thousands of journalists cover these attacks each in their own way with unique motives. This information goes to the public, and it is up to that person how they want to consume the story and view the shooting. National and local journalists tend to cover school shootings quite differently throughout time with unique frames. The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and Robb Elementary Schools illustrate this framing distinctively.

Through a qualitative study of national and local coverage of the Sandy Hook and Robb Elementary shootings, this study finds key differences in how journalists framed the stories following the shootings. As the two deadliest elementary school shootings to date, they share many similarities, yet many differences in how journalists framed them.

In the ten years that divided the shootings, gun control became a significant frame locally and nationally from as early as the day of the shooting. In the Sandy Hook shootings, local coverage framed the rebuilding of a broken community, whereas national journalists framed on gun control and NRA power. In the Robb Elementary shootings, after a week of coverage framed on gun control, journalists focused on law and police responsibility.

Because of the dominant frame of police responsibility for the Robb shootings, there were fewer differences between national and local coverage. Because of this dominant frame, there was an overall lack of coverage for the victims of the shooting nationally and locally.



Committee Chair

Mari, Will