The Newsworthiness of Mass Public Shootings: What Factors Impact the Extent of Coverage?

Publication Title

Homicide Studies

Document Type


Department or Program


Publication Date



mass public shootings, negative binomial regression, news media coverage, offense characteristics, public perceptions


This study examined the characteristics of mass public shootings from 2000 through 2019 that impacted the extent of news coverage. A negative binomial regression predicting AP story counts indicated substantially greater coverage of shootings with a high number of casualties; that target government facilities, schools, or houses of worship; that are perpetrated by younger assailants, particularly with indications of mental illness; that involve terrorism or hate-motivation; that end in the assailant’s arrest rather than death; and, to a lesser extent, that include larger shares of victims who are White, women, children, and strangers. Overall, the disproportionate coverage contributes to distorted perceptions of risk and reinforces inaccurate stereotypes about these crimes.