The formulaic way newspapers report on gun deaths in the U.S. has contributed to widespread desensitization. In an effort to spotlight and ultimately change this model, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) created a single newspaper that covered every mass shooting over the last three years — in a single article.
To make the generic article, called The Inevitable News, CJR analyzed 2,000 recent, highly circulated news stories on mass shootings, parsing through them to identify commonalities in reporting, sentence structure and verbiage. The information was then used to build a single article that serves as a stand-in template capable of covering any mass shooting.
The message was clear: Reporters need to break out of this model and treat each mass shooting as an individual, horrific event. To launch the campaign, physical copies of the newspaper were placed at the entrances of media companies across New York City and sent to some of the biggest papers in the U.S., including The New York Times and The Washington Post. These papers mirrored their brand guidelines and served as an invitation for their editorial staff to join CJR at the Gun Violence News Summit. More than 200 journalists from over 100 publications targeted by the campaign participated in the virtual event.