Could a Holistic Approach to Gun Violence Reporting Help Victims?

By Fairriona Magee and Agya K. Aning, The Trace | May 14, 2024

Stoneleigh Fellow Jessica Beard was featured by The Trace for her research on media coverage of gun violence.

In the fall of 2022, when I first started working at The Trace, I had the opportunity to attend the Association of Health Care Journalists’ summit on reporting on violence as a public health issue. During one of the sessions, Dr. Jessica Beard, a Temple University trauma surgeon and the director of research for the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting, spoke about her work. She stood at the podium, tearfully recounted her experience of treating shooting victims, and shared how her work intersected with her research on media coverage of gun violence.

Last week, Beard and her team published two studies that analyzed how Philadelphia TV outlets frame their gun violence coverage, particularly examining systemic disparities and the use of a public health lens. Their findings show clear patterns in what types of shootings are overrepresented: shootings of children, mass shootings, and gun violence in communities with higher median incomes and lower rates of economic segregation based on race. Data has consistently shown that Black males make up the majority of Philadelphia gun homicide victims and perpetrators.

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