When the Senate gun control bill died, so did the story
By Danny Hayes
Seven months ago, Adam Lanza blasted his way into a first-grade classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, murdering 20 children and six staff members before turning the gun on himself.
The massacre in Newtown, Conn., set off a furious debate, prompting an unprecedented amount of media attention on America’s gun laws. But the press’s declining interest in gun control in recent months illustrates just how hard it is for advocates to keep a story alive once Washington stops fighting over it.
As I’ve written previously, media coverage in the wake of major shootings tends to follow what’s known as the “issue attention cycle.” Gun control stories spike immediately afterward but fall off the agenda as other events and issues emerge to occupy the media’s interest. This happened after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and, the 2011 shooting of Gabby Giffords in Tucson, and the 2012 attack in an Aurora, Co. movie theater.
Although Newtown appeared to defy that pattern in the two months after the shooting, it’s now clear that the issue attention cycle simply took longer to assert itself.
The graph below displays the number of stories that included the phrase “gun control” for each week during the last seven months. The data come from a search of more than 500 outlets in the U.S. News & Wires database in Lexis-Nexis. The chart begins with the seven days before the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting, and ends with data collected Friday. Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post.