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Free Content Press Coverage of Social Work

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The ways in which social workers are criticised in the press have led to concern in the profession, especially in cases involving child-battering, and illustrated more recently in press reactions to the social workers' strike. Here, local and national press reports for two months in 1978 have been analysed to provide a broad picture of press treatment of social work material, both with regard to controversial issues and the day-to-day handling of social work news. In fact, the number of positive comments on social work were found to slightly outnumber the negative ones, although what impact each type of story has on the public is difficult to estimate. However press concentration on certain areas of social work (like child-care cases) at the expense of other areas (like work with the elderly) may influence public definitions of social workers' roles. In addition, there were considerable differences between newspapers, and only a vague pattern to these differences, and the article suggests that there is potential for social workers to improve their press image if they are prepared to approach the press, rather than wait for the press to question them over 'sensational' and potentially damaging stories. In this context, press reaction to the annual report of the NSPCC is in stark contrast to that following the report of inquiry into the death of Karen Spencer.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1979

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