Lessons from virginia tech: Exporing disparities & commonalities between visual coverage in U.S. newspapers & victims' families' perceptions

Shahira Fahmy, Sara J. Roedl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Using a multi-method approach, the researchers examined the visual content of the Virginia Tech shootings in U.S. newspapers during the 3 days following the event and conducted interviews with a few members of the victims' families examining their perceptions of the photographic coverage. This exploratory study analyzed 2079 photographs in terms of the crime and suspect frame and the tension management frame. It also examined the use of the graphic device in the visual coverage. Then, inspired by the photo elicitation technique, perceptions of media coverage held by three families of the victims were examined and suggestions for improving the visual coverage of similar events in the future were recorded. Thus, the outcome of the difficult ethical decisions newspaper editors must make while covering traumatic events and the perceptions of those directly affected by the events were explored. Results of this study represent a step toward offering resources for thinking about the visual coverage of tragic events in more responsible ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-107
Number of pages17
JournalVisual Communication Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Education

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