This thesis investigates the representation of mass shootings in media, looking specifically at Twitter and online news. A perceived epidemic in the U.S., news articles and social media broadcasts remain surging across information communication mediums, on the topic of mass shootings. These incidents are a trigger for ongoing discourse provoking arguments on the accessibility of firearms, policies for security, the mental health of society, and most recently, frustration over the persistence of unresolved discourse. With strong ties between mass shootings and politics, there are likely agendas at work underlying responses to mass shooting incidents, promoting the party whose policies are to be affective in stopping them. Therefore, there is need for a healthy skepticism towards the representation we receive from our media on this topic. Which shootings get covered in the news? On Twitter? Do these shootings have something in common, like motive, victim count, or location? Which shootings lead to conversation about gun control, or immigration? Using visualization methods, Trigger Events creates view for us to see what media response individual mass shootings receive. Tweets and news articles are indexed to the shootings they refer to, and the topics of their text are extracted, so that we can look at and compare the volume and topics of media response to different types of mass shootings. Having such a view gives us a space to reflect upon our media and its possible influence over our perception of events or situations in physical space.
Data for this project comes from Twitter Streaming API, IBM's Alchemy News API, Mass Shooting Tracker, and Mother Jones' Investigation:US Mass Shootings, 1982-2017.
Each plot represents 1 mass shooting. The line graph shows total news and tweets per hour proceeding the shooting. The circles are scaled to show the total news and tweets for each shooting. Select the plot to see the topics in the news articles, the hashtags in the tweets, and information about the shooting.
From 14,332 tweets containing the terms "shooting", "gun", or "firearm" between August 1, 2016 and October 1, 2016, these graphs show total tweets per hour. The blue graph can be filtered by hashtag by selecting from the list.