After Lott claimed that biased news coverage of the shootings at the Appalachian School of Law deliberately omitted a defensive gun use, I did my own analysis of the news stories and found that the alleged bias was the product of Lott’s flawed counting methodology. Lott has posted a spreadsheet listing 295 articles he found on Nexis, and a file containing 249 of those articles. Some of those articles he does not count because they are duplicates. He asserts that the coverage was biased because only 3 out 218 stories mentioned that the attack was stopped by armed students. Some of the differences in our counts are because we used different sources for the articles (Factiva vs Nexis), so I’ll redo my analysis using the articles Lott posted. I’ll count things in the same way if possible to see why we get different results.
I indexed and categorized the articles and placed them here. Lott has not counted stories that are exact duplicates from his count, but if two versions of a story are slightly different he counts both of them. For example, he counts this and this as different stories, even though they are almost the same. In order to be as consistent as possible with Lott’s counts, I will count duplicates the same way as him in the analysis below.
Next, I leave out stories about the funerals and students being released from hospital, leaving 124 stories stories that mention how Odighizuwa was apprehended,
Rex Bowman of the Richmond Times Dispatch wrote a story on January 17 that stated “fellow students tackled and subdued him”, and then on January 18 wrote another story that stated “Odighizuwa … was wrestled to the ground by fellow students, one of whom aimed his own revolver at Odighizuwa”. Obviously the reason why Bowman didn’t mention the gun on the 17th wasn’t because he was biased against guns, but because he hadn’t learned about it. The only stories that could potentially exhibit bias against guns are those that appeared on the 18th or later. There are 25 such stories. Some of these stories don’t have any bylines and appear to have just been rewritten from wire service accounts. If reporter’s biases are removing references to defender’s guns, then we need to look at the original stories and not the ones without bylines. That brings us down to 14 stories by eight different sets of authors. I’ll look at each of these authors to see if any show signs of bias.
- Chris Kahn
- Kahn actually mentioned the defender’s gun in another story, so the claim that he deliberately concealed this information is impossible to sustain.
- Mike Oduniyi
- This story seems to have been written for Africa News because Odighizuwa was Nigerian. Oduniyi looks to have written his story from the news stories of 17 Jan and doesn’t seem to have talked to anyone himself. No evidence that Oduniyi knew about a defender’s gun.
- Michael Beach
- This story appeared in an Australian newspaper on the 18th when it was still the 17th in the US. It is based on the wire service reports on the 17th. No evidence that Beach knew about a defender’s gun.
- Alfonso A Castillo
- This story was about the murdered dean. Castillo just mentions in passing the police report of how Odighizuwa was apprehended. No evidence that Castillo knew about a defender’s gun.
- Brian Hicks
- Another story about the murdered dean which mentions the police report in passing. No evidence that Hicks knew about a defender’s gun.
- Paul Dellinger
- This story was about the memorial service. Dellinger talked to Mikael Gross about one of the murder victims and identified Gross as one of the students who tackled Odighizuwa. No evidence that Dellinger knew about a defender’s gun.
- Adam Laskar
- This story is about one of the murdered faculty. It summarizes the wire service reports of the 17th. No evidence that Laskar knew about a defender’s gun.
- Maria Glod
- Talked to Gross about the shootings. Did not mention that he was armed.
My basic result does not change. There was only reporter whose account could possibly be construed as biased against guns. Lott makes it appear that there is bias by counting all the reports from the 17th and 16th when the reporters did not know about the defender’s gun, and also counting all the stories that were about completely different aspects of the shootings.