Madness, Mayhem, and Media: A Qualitative Case Study on News Framing of the August 31st, 2019, Mass Shooting in Odessa, Texas



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The goal of this qualitative case study was to better understand why negative mental illness frames continue to occur when journalists report on mass shootings, as these frames increase stigma. Stigma has real-world negative consequences for people with mental illness. I utilized a variety of methods, including a framing analysis of news stories about the August 31st, 2019, mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, writing a practice news story, conducting newsroom observations, and asking journalists to complete an editing exercise and an interview. The results demonstrate that the factors which lead to the creation of the negative mental health frames are complex and nuanced. For example, some key factors that affected the journalists’ reporting include a lack of resources (extra time, extra people, etc.), constantly short deadlines, mental overload, physical fatigue, and a lack of mental health training. Much more research is needed in this area to help provide a better understanding of how to begin decreasing the amount of negative mental health frames.



News Frames, Mental Illness, Stigma, Odessa, Texas, Journalism, Mass Shootings