'Bullets as bacteria': Television news magazines' use of the public health model for reporting violence

Renita Coleman, David D. Perlmutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Surveys of mass media content related to social violence suggest that it generally focuses on the individual, atomistic 'act' (e.g. the bang-bang car chase) rather than issues of cause and prevention. Yet, increasingly - but with controversy - doctors, health officials and activists have pushed for a 'public health' model of reporting news about crime and violence that looks at interactions between the victim, the agent of injury or death, and the environment in which the injury or death took place rather than viewing it in strictly individual terms. In this study of television news-magazine stories, we found a strong emphasis on episodic and personal stories, with minor allusions to greater social issues. The emphasis on entertainment seemed to negate any promised 'public health' angles. We conclude that the challenge for the public health model is to find 'scripts' that journalists deem to be publicly consumable and ratings friendly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-42
Number of pages19
JournalJournalism
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005

Keywords

  • Crime
  • Journalism
  • News
  • Public health
  • Television
  • Violence

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