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Media construction of a school shooting as a social problem

Media construction of a school shooting as a social problem
Media construction of a school shooting as a social problem
The Monash University shooting which occurred in 2002, in Melbourne Australia, is analysed using claims-making theory and the four-stage natural history model of social problems. As Spector and Kitsuse argue, social problems ‘are what people think they are’ rather than objective problems. This incident – a shooting of two classmates by a mentally ill offender who suffered from persecutory delusions – was framed as a gun problem rather than a socially or psychologically related crime. In doing so, journalists made claims or emphasised the claims of selected voices in order to promote a specific social problem over others and, in turn, reinforce political arguments for tougher gun laws and policy measures. The implication with this type of coverage is that it results in not addressing appropriately the real causes of the problem; in this case violence as a coping mechanism by a mentally ill offender. This study offers a useful model to study media reporting of a claimed social problem and its influence in the policy process, decision and development.
claims-making, media coverage, newsworthiness, social problems
1464-8849
696-712
Wondemaghen, M.
ffb7f092-1b45-4e9d-94d5-52484047961f
Wondemaghen, M.
ffb7f092-1b45-4e9d-94d5-52484047961f

Wondemaghen, M. (2014) Media construction of a school shooting as a social problem. Journalism, 15 (6), 696-712. (doi:10.1177/1464884913496498).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Monash University shooting which occurred in 2002, in Melbourne Australia, is analysed using claims-making theory and the four-stage natural history model of social problems. As Spector and Kitsuse argue, social problems ‘are what people think they are’ rather than objective problems. This incident – a shooting of two classmates by a mentally ill offender who suffered from persecutory delusions – was framed as a gun problem rather than a socially or psychologically related crime. In doing so, journalists made claims or emphasised the claims of selected voices in order to promote a specific social problem over others and, in turn, reinforce political arguments for tougher gun laws and policy measures. The implication with this type of coverage is that it results in not addressing appropriately the real causes of the problem; in this case violence as a coping mechanism by a mentally ill offender. This study offers a useful model to study media reporting of a claimed social problem and its influence in the policy process, decision and development.

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More information

e-pub ahead of print date: 24 July 2013
Published date: August 2014
Keywords: claims-making, media coverage, newsworthiness, social problems
Organisations: Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 380252
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/380252
ISSN: 1464-8849
PURE UUID: 427be63e-be14-45df-9285-c9bce98184b9

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 07 Sep 2015 13:50
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 21:09

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