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If you ever did a paint by number picture as a child—or have joined the recent trend of coloring for adults that is popping up all over social media—you know how fragmented the image appears until you start to add the color. Devoid of color, it takes concentration to see the image. With each new color, the image begins to take shape, allowing you to better visualize the final outcome. Media monitoring and analytics follows a similar process. Let’s see what it reveals about a recurring issue in today’s media.
It feels like recent headlines have been dominated by mass shootings. One of the latest, high-profile events took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. It received plenty of coverage via international, national and local media outlets as shown below:
In fact, broadcast outlets covered the event most, followed by news and blog sources.
What may be most shocking from the analysis of media coverage is how quickly the coverage decelerated after the event occurred.
In less than a week, coverage has dropped off significantly. This points to a bigger issue – that mass shootings have become so commonplace that they fail to sustain coverage—and therefore, visibility—into what is clearly an escalating problem. Recently, The Guardian published an infographic that shows how enormous the issue of gun violence is: 994 mass shootings – defined as involving four or more individuals being shot in a single event—have taken place in the last 1,004 days. No region of the country is immune to the impact of this trend.
President Obama’s statement following the Oregon shooting revealed his frustration with this violent trend. As CNN reported, “Obama seemed to be thinking of all the other times—of his speeches after massacres in Connecticut, Colorado, Arizona, Texas and recently in Charleston, South Carolina.” The President said, “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it ... We have become numb to this.” He referred to countries like Great Britain and Australia that, in the aftermath of mass shootings, quickly passed legislation that protects gun ownership rights while also reducing the mass shootings.
There is no easy answer for this trend, but it does emphasize how monitoring across local, regional, national and international sources of news can fill in the blanks and provide a more complete picture of trends or threats in the digital age.