Journalism prof on public apathy towards mass shootings

Nicole Dahmen

On Jan. 23, a 15-year-old boy in Kentucky shot 16 of his classmates, killing two of them. Cable news dedicated just 16 minutes of coverage to the attack.

Mass shootings have become so commonplace that when a man wearing body armor and carrying two rifles and a handgun shot four people on Jan. 28, CNN and MSNBC offered no coverage of the event.

Nicole Dahmen, an associate professor at the UO School of Journalism and Communication, talked to the Huffington Post about the waning public interest in mass shootings.

“It’s so routine, and follows a predictable pattern,” Dahmen said. “Readers get the sense that nothing can be done, we’ve seen this story before.”

Dahmen suggested that media coverage of gun violence focus on the “why and how” of the news rather than the “who, what and where.”

For example, she said that the media should look at how the Kentucky student obtained his firearms. Over two-thirds of school shooters acquire the guns used in their attacks from the homes of their parents or other relatives, according to a 2004 report. Kentucky does not require safe storage of guns that are not in use.

For the full story, see “Public outrage over mass shootings is running on empty” on the Huffington Post.

Dahmen’s research focuses on ethical and technological issues in visual communication, particularly in the digital age. She also has a special interest in contextual reporting.