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Last Sunday, Omar Mateen entered Pulse nightclub just after 2 A.M. Minutes later Pulse posted an ominous status on Facebook: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.” Three hours later, before the sun even rose, media outlets across the globe were already reporting on another mass shooting in the U.S., the largest one to date. Like many, we turned to the media in the wake of the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando to keep up with the developing story and see what others were talking about. Here are some of our initial findings from our news analysis.
As we mentioned above, technology—mobile and social media—led to almost instant reporting of the incident. From a terrorist who paused in his shooting to post to Facebook and call a local media outlet to frantic tweets and snapchats from nightclub patrons, the story gathered momentum minute-by-minute and hour by hour. As you can see from the coverage chart below, article volume shot up to nearly 7,500 between 2 A.M. and 6 A.M.
Coverage was global: It wasn’t just media outlets in the U.S. and Canada that picked up the story. Media outlets in Australia and across Europe were reporting on the mass shooting.
News spikes when terrorism is suspected: Between 10 A.M. and 6 P.M., as details came out about the shooter, including his own call to 911 to pledge fealty to ISIS, news coverage jumped.
Given the gravity of the attack, it’s not surprising that the developing story has maintained a high volume of media attention all week. The chart below shows just how prominent the story has been across Broadcast and Online outlets.
But in addition to coverage of the attack itself, much of the media buzz centered on the attacker, terrorist Omar Mateen and the politicians making statements about the attack. The chart below shows that behind the shooter, President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican and Democrat nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were frequently mentioned in the media. Both Trump and Clinton released statements (and tweets) revealing their positions on tackling terrorism and gun control.
A look at the word cloud below shows the variety of topics that have appeared in the media since the story first broke—many of which turned into political conversations.
Mixed in with the stories about the shooting, the shooter and the victims were tales of heroism and hope—people who risked their own lives to help Pulse patrons escape and people who lined up to donate blood, waiting hours in the hot sun to do something positive on behalf of victims. OneBlood blood bank saw blood collections jump three times its usual amount on Sunday, taking in 5,300 donations in one day. The blood donations served to highlight one issue related to gay rights: Many in the LGBT community used the need to replenish blood supplies to point out that gay and bisexual men are prevented by current rules to donate blood unless they have been celibate for 12 months.
In addition, the attack has renewed conversations (and debate) over gun rights and gun control, including a 15-hour filibuster by Democratic Senators in protest of congressional inaction in response to gun violence.
On a final note, we want to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sonnet, used as an acceptance speech at the Tony Awards that took place Sunday night. The beginning—dedicated to his wife—led to a touching and heartfelt acknowledgement of the mass shooting:
“When senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day.
This show is proof that history remembers we lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;
We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”
You can learn more about the victims here.