April 15, 2013

Honors Student Studies Media Reactions to School Shootings

VALDOSTA – Following a school shooting, it is common to observe reactions from public safety and emergency medical first responders, eyewitnesses and family and friends of victims. However, the public seldom focuses on the reactions of another first responder to such a tragedy – the news reporter. Valdosta State University honors student Jennifer Dandron explores the media’s response to school shootings in a paper titled “The Relationship Between the Media and School Shootings.”

Dandron’s paper focuses on school shootings that have occurred in the past 15 years, highlighting those such as the Columbine, Virginia Tech and Newtown massacres. Dandron has recently presented her paper orally at the Georgia Collegiate Honors Annual Conference in Statesboro, Undergraduate Research Symposium at VSU and the Southern Regional Honors Council Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. The student has also been notified that she was selected as this year's recipient for the William Bartram Award for Intellectual Exploration because of her paper. 

“I wanted to focus on three major points in the paper: the general responses from the media during school shootings, ethical standpoints taken when reporting such incidents and the effects such tragedies have on the journalists who cover them,” said Dandron. “It includes social, print and broadcast media.”

The paper discusses sensitive topics such as interviewing children after shootings and addresses the issue of breaching ethics. It also reveals cases where journalists have dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder after covering school shootings.

Dandron completed the study as part of her Honors Research Methods class. Dr. Christine James, professor of philosophy, was her faculty sponsor.

“I will always look back on this paper as the one that got me started in research,” said Dandron. “The research methods course has taught me how to properly complete a research paper by doing the research first and then coming up with a thesis. Before taking the class, I would only look for reports that supported my conclusion.”

Dandron added that the class has prepared her for other research papers that she will complete during her undergraduate and graduate studies.

Dandron plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mass media with a journalism certificate as well as a bachelor’s degree in political science in May 2015.

“Following graduation, I may apply to some new stations to get my feet wet in journalism, but I ultimately plan to have a career in political analysis and policymaking,” said Dandron.

Dandron entered the Honors College as a freshman in Fall 2011. Since then, she has been involved in various activities and currently serves as the college’s social media coordinator. She has also won two scholarships through the Honors College.

“I love the Honors College,” said Dandron. “Being a part of it is one of my favorite parts about college life. It has been a good way for me to build relationships with my professors as well as other students.”

The mission of the Honors College is to provide for the stimulation of academically motivated students and encourage meaningful connections between disciplines, innovative and unusual approaches to subject matter and a reliance upon experiential learning and global awareness that are fully integrated into the course content and lead to opportunities for strong undergraduate research and creative endeavors . The Honors College also provides extra-curricular opportunities for students to broaden themselves through lectures, service opportunities and other forms of activity that relate to their education.