PEJ: Discussion of Rhetoric Leads Coverage of Tucson Shooting

By Alex Weprin 

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The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s News Coverage Index looked at the media coverage in the days following the shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

The findings?

Most of the coverage in the wake of the shooting was about the role of political rhetoric, taking up 27% of the newshole, followed by a profile of the shooter with 20%, straight news reporting at 12%, President Obama’s speech in Tucson at 9%, a profile of Giffords and coverage of Mourning/vigils at 8% each, and the gun control debate with 5% of the coverage.

On cable news, the political rhetoric question took up 32% of coverage for the week.

The PEJ report also noted that the response to Obama’s speech in Tucson was largely positive, from pundits on both the left and right. Sarah Palin’s video statement on the matter, however, did not elicit the same positive response:

In the mainstream press, a media narrative that was generally sympathetic to Palin’s view that she had been unfairly blamed for the Tucson violence seemed to change after the video’s release.