Media’s Reporting on Gun Violence Does Not Reflect Reality

A new study, led by PISC Senior Scholar, Elinore Kaufman and fellow doctors who regularly treat gunshot victims, examines media coverage of intentional, interpersonal shootings in 3 U.S. cities (Making the news: Victim characteristics associated with media reporting on firearm injury). Kaufman et al. compared police department data on shootings to media reports drawn from the Gun Violence Archive.

The gap between what is covered—and what goes uncovered—in the news could be inaccurately representing the reality of gun violence, which may affect the public perception. Dr. Kaufman says, “As a trauma surgeon, and someone who feels very connected to my patients, I take notice of gun violence coverage in the news—most often the lack thereof. I am particularly saddened when I find there was no media reporting on the shootings that have caused injury and death to my patients, which is most often the case.”

Results of this study found that the strongest, independent predictor of reporting was fatality, followed by multiple shooting cases. Male victims also had lower odds of reporting. Half of all firearm assault victims were not reported in the news media at all. Kaufman et al. suggest researchers and policy makers seeking to prevent firearm injury work with journalists and editors to improve reporting on its causes and consequences.

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