Understanding where America's public discussion takes place in today's society: case studies of concealed weapons carry reform
NeSmith, Daniel G.
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Ideally, in America's democratic society, lawmakers pass laws based on the will of the people. The passage of concealed-carry laws across the country would then suggest that there is a significant movement that has pushed these bills through. However, the traditional media has failed to cover this aspect of the changing societal demand. What does this observation suggest about traditional media, which is considered an important medium of public discussion in a democracy? Has another medium for public discussion replaced the Fourth Estate? A case-study approach is used to single out instances in which states that passed concealed-weapons laws did so despite the lack of traditional media coverage. First, this thesis identifies traditional media trends at the state and national levels within the time period surrounding the passage of handgun reforms. Second, the media trend is compared to the passage of gun legislation and concealed-carry laws to establish the breadth, depth, and reach of traditional media's role in the public sphere. Third, alternative modes of information are compared to identify the presence and impact of other media sources on the public discourse. This research compares and contrasts the roles and importance of traditional and social media in the public sphere today, as evidenced by the coverage of concealed-carry laws and related stories. The research suggests that traditional news media is no longer the main forum for discussions regarding gun regulations in the public sphere. Social media's growing influence in the public has led to its emergence as an alternative to traditional media.
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