Insights from Experts is a translational research product with the goal of sharing Penn State’s knowledge and expertise with a broad audience. Each post is designed to be accessible, approachable, and relevant to various stakeholders, including policy-makers, practitioners, research funders, academia, and community members. Initially launched in 2020 and focused primarily on the societal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effort is intended to be connected to the dynamic needs of society, so Insights from Experts will be expanding to cover additional topics within and outside of social science and the pandemic. The effort is an initiative of the Social Science Research Institute and the Center for Health Care and Policy Research. Please check back here for future updates.

When it comes to Gun Violence, Our News Media is Failing Us

Author: Matt Jordan, Ph.D.


America occupies an exceptional place in the world among democratic countries with highly developed economies. And it’s not an exceptionalism we should be proud of. Gun violence kills more human beings per capita in the US than anywhere else, 20 times more than our closest rival. And as for mass shootings, we’re number 1 . It’s not even close. American civilians own more guns than the next 25 countries combined . The sum of this ghastly arithmetic — when a population with as many angry or…

Does American gun violence demand more graphic depictions in news?

Author: Patrick Plaisance, Ph.D.


Calls for journalists to show gruesome images of shooting victims may not be best approach to help audiences understand the violence. Part of the recurring debate over America’s gun violence addresses questions over news media coverage. These questions become more urgent when children are victims, such as in the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. What kind of coverage is appropriate? Should journalists ever show bodies and blood? Would such graphic coverage galvanize public opinion into…

Gun ownership and school shootings

What can we learn from recent violence?

Author: Lacey N. Wallace, PhD


Due to widespread news coverage, many of us can list the locations of school shootings as quickly as we can count off items on our weekly grocery list: Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and now Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Although no action we take can bring back those lost in these acts of violence, there are lessons we can take away from each shooting that may help us better understand the context of gun violence…