On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd at Kent State University and killed four students. This essay critically interprets mainstream television journalism that commemorated the shootings in the past eighteen years. Throughout this coverage, predominant framing devices depoliticized the Kent State tragedy by characterizing both former students and guard members as trauma victims. The emphasis on eyewitnesses as victims provided the basis for a therapeutic frame that promoted reconciliation as a rationale for commemorating the shootings. This dominant news frame tacitly advanced a model of commemorative journalism at the expense of articulating political critique, thus deflecting attention from public controversy over how citizens should respond to tragedies that occur when state agencies repress contentious dissent.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in THE COMMUNICATION REVIEW on May 27, 2009, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10714420902921101.