School Shootings and the Man-Bites-Dog Criterion of Newsworthiness

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School shootings have received considerable media attention in recent years. These widely publicized crimes have provoked fear among parents, school staff, and the public at large despite data indicating that school violence has not significantly increased. This article examines the ways in which school shootings are depicted in the media and contrasts these images with official sources of juvenile crime data. The findings indicate that media reports of school shootings lead to grossly distorted perceptions of the potential for victimization. Recommendations are offered to help provide more accurate and balanced coverage of these tragic events.