Teacher as a Hero in Tragedy: An Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of the Parkland School Shooting and the Sewol Ferry Disaster

© Media Watch 11 (3) 373-385, 2020
ISSN 0976-0911 | e-ISSN 2249-8818
DOI: 10.15655/mw/2020/v11i3/202926

Teacher as a Hero in Tragedy: An Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of the
Parkland School Shooting and the Sewol Ferry Disaster


Sookyeong Hong1  and Linda Kean2

1Hansei University, South Korea
2East Carolina University, North Carolina, USA


Unfortunately, tragedies occur all around the world every day. It is perceived by many as particularly devastating when children are the victims of the tragedy. When these events do occur, the media is likely to cover them in part due to the innocence and vulnerability of the victims. In reading media accounts of tragedies involving children, we often hear stories of bravery and heroism on the part of teachers. Teachers’ images in the media are not always positive, but their capacity to serve as heroes can be seen in the coverage of these tragic events. Campbell discusses the hero monomyth in terms of separation, initiation, and return. In this vein, we look at the stories of hero teachers before, during, and after two specific incidents in order to conduct a comparative, cross-cultural study. We consider two tragic incidents in two different countries—the sinking of the Sewol ferry in South Korea in 2014 and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. In this research, we look at media accounts of three hero teachers in each incident and make comparisons from a sociocultural perspective through the lens of a hero narrative. 


Keywords:             Hero, teacher, news, tragedy, Sewol ferry, Florida school shooting, newspaper, media


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Sookyeong Hong received her doctorate from the School of Communication and Information from University of Paris 2, France. She is an Associate Professor at Hansei University, Korea. Her research field is a multicultural society, media content analysis, risk communication, and storytelling.

Linda Kean is a Professor and the Director of the School of Communication at East Carolina University. Her research focuses on media effects and health communication.