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How the Media Compound Urban Problems

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Major news media coverage of cities reinforces an overwhelmingly negative and misleading view of urban America. The images from the nightly news, newsweeklies, and on the pages of our daily newspapers are an unrelenting story of social pathology—mounting crime, gangs, drug wars, racial tension, homelessness, teenage pregnancy, AIDS, inadequate schools, and slum housing. Moreover, this perspective on our cities is compounded by misleading news coverage of government efforts to address these problems. Government programs are typically covered as well‐intentioned but misguided, plagued by mismanagement, inefficiency, and, in some cases, corruption. There is very little news coverage of collective efforts by unions, community organizations, and other grassroots groups to address problems. Only when such efforts include drama, conflict, and/or violence do the major media typically pay attention.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Occidental College

Publication date: June 1, 2005


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