Research has shown the choices journalists make while covering a mass shooting can have a direct impact on preventing or further encouraging future such events. Unfortunately, while newspapers report on more than 100 gun deaths every day in the U.S., the coverage typically follows a familiar format. By reporting shootings as if they were filling out a template, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), a media nonprofit, firmly believes journalists are desensitizing readers rather than using their platform to enact change.
To drive home this point, CJR created The Inevitable News, a newspaper that covers every mass shooting over the last three years in a single article. To build the generic, encapsulating piece, CJR examined 2,000 highly circulated articles on mass shootings from that time period, pulling out similarities in reporting, from story structure to word choice. Physical copies of the newspaper were distributed at entrances to media companies across New York City.
The campaign made an impact with journalists: More than 200 of them, representing over 100 publications, joined CJR in attending the virtual Gun Violence News Summit. Through The Inevitable News and the subsequent summit, CJR estimates its message on gun violence reached 100,000 people, including 30,000 journalists.