Is it just about guns? ABC News framing of mass shooting stories on digital Platforms

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Iowa Journal of Communication,


Analyzing news frames in the context of mass shootings is a pertinent and timely subject in the current discussions on gun violence in the United States. This study uses the Analysis of Topic Model Networks frame analysis method to examine ABC News coverage of the 2017 Sutherland Springs, Texas, mass shooting. The study analyzed 202 news stories from ABC's X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, and website. The results support previous research on legacy news channels concerning Victims, the Shooter, and Community frames. Additionally, it supports recently discovered frames— Empathy, Interventions, Reactions, and Security. The chisquare test reveals significant differences in the frames' distribution across digital platforms apart from Security Frame. Shooter Frame shows the most statistically significant difference (χ² = 109.28, p < 0.001). These differences suggest that news networks' framing of their stories on the three digital platforms (X, YouTube, and website) are not equivalent. There are platform-specific differences concerning the news framing practices. The research critically examines the implications of these findings to the study of mass shooting coverage, policy debates, digital media literacy, and cultural understanding in today's digital world.