WASHINGTON -- Crime, violence and child abuse dominate the news media's coverage of children, while stories related to the care and health of young people receive less attention, according to a study released Tuesday.
Moreover, news stories about youth crime and violence toward children often fail to place events in the context of broader trends and contain less information about social policy than do stories about children, according to the study by the Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families.
"The issues that we covered the most frequently are the ones about which journalists provided the least context," said Beth Frerking, the center's director.
Frerking cited coverage of high school shootings, such as the one at Santana High School in Santee, Calif., last year, as examples. These stories, consumed with details of the crime and under time constraints, lack context and often neglect to mention that, overall, school violence is decreasing, she said.
"Context doesn't have to be pages long. It can be a sentence," Frerking said. "But without it (the media) fail in our mission to help educate our audience and contribute to a more informed public debate."
The Casey Journalism Center on Children and Families is a program of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The report is available at www.casey.umd.edu on the Internet.
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