The influence of audience: Analyzing the relationship between post-Sandy Hook newspaper coverage and readers’ positions on gun policy
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The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut took place on December 14, 2012. Sandy Hook prompted President Barack Obama to issue 23 executive orders related to gun policy in early 2013. Newspapers throughout the country covered the policy changes and the Sandy Hook shooting in various ways. In the 90 days after Sandy Hook, 30 randomly selected newspapers published 1,017 articles mentioning guns in the context of the shooting. Fifteen newspapers were more likely to use gun control to characterize the shooting, fourteen were more likely to use gun rights, and one newspaper was evenly split in its use of gun control and gun rights. Newspapers also varied in the percentage of their total articles that mentioned guns in the context of Sandy Hook. Newspapers that published a larger percentage of their overall articles that mentioned guns in the context of Sandy Hook were more likely to frame the event with gun control. These newspaper articles were also examined using audience demand theory, which posits that demand may shape the way newspapers cover issues. Specifically, demand for gun rights newspaper coverage was measured using the number of donations to the National Rifle Association Political Action Committee. This number of NRA PAC donations per population in a given area slightly positively related with greater use of gun rights frames, and slightly negatively related with greater use of gun control frames, but these relationships were not statistically significant. This project suggests that audience demand theory can be applied to newspaper coverage of guns.
DescriptionHonors thesis for Public Policy Studies
DepartmentPublic Policy Studies
CitationKoelsch, Anna (2014). The influence of audience: Analyzing the relationship between post-Sandy Hook newspaper coverage and readers’ positions on gun policy. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8298.
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Rights for Collection: Undergraduate Honors Theses and Student papers