Published Online: November 28, 2001
Published in Print: November 28, 2001, as Children & Families

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A Distorted View?

Children are the focus of only 10 percent of local television news stories, even though they make up about one-quarter of the U.S. population, according to a six-city study from Children Now, a policy and advocacy organization based in Oakland, Calif.

And when the news broadcasts do focus on children, almost half the stories—45 percent—are about crime, and most of those focus on violent crimes committed against children, the study found.

That topic is followed by health, at 25 percent, and "lifestyle issues," at 19 percent. About 13 percent of the stories on children focus on public-policy issues, and 9 percent deal with education issues.

While the public depends on the news media for information about children's issues, the authors say, "an ever- growing body of research demonstrates that the news media routinely paint a distorted view of children."

The findings were released last month in a report titled "The Local Television News Media's Picture of Children." For the study, which was conducted before the Sept. 11 terrorism, the researchers examined one month of local television evening broadcasts in six media markets: New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Seattle, and Des Moines, Iowa.

The authors conclude that there is a need for "greater breadth and balance in the news media's coverage of children and child-related issues."

Ambassadors at Work

Twenty-five educators, program administrators, and community leaders are working throughout the country this school year as "after-school ambassadors" to build support for after-school programs.

Serving one-year terms, they were selected by the Afterschool Alliance, a Washington-based public-private partnership working to raise the quality and availability of affordable programs.

Representing 20 states and the District of Columbia, the ambassadors include John Ervin, a project coordinator for the Modesto, Calif., city schools' 21st Century Afterschool Learning Program; Deb Ferrin, the child- care coordinator for San Diego; Mindy DeSalvo, the director of 20 family technology-resource centers in the public schools in DeKalb County, Ga.; and Frank Camp, the site director of Smith Middle School's after-school program in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Information on the alliance is available on the Web at www.afterschoolalliance.org.

—Linda Jacobson ljacobs@epe.org

Vol. 21, Issue 13, Page 12

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