Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Media rarely notes when alcohol plays role in violent crimes and accidents

25.10.2006
The news media seriously underreport the role alcohol plays in violent crimes, injuries and traffic accidents, according to a new national study.
While alcohol is believed to play a role in about one-third of homicides and fatal motor vehicle accidents, media reports linked alcohol to specific accidents or crimes significantly less frequently.

Some of the largest discrepancies occurred in reporting alcohol use in violent crimes, particularly for television news. Only 1.4 percent of television news stories in the sample mentioned the role of alcohol in their reporting of homicides, according to Michael Slater, co-author of the study and professor of communication at Ohio State University.

The result is that the public may underestimate the dangers of alcohol use, Slater said.

“People's perceptions of risk are strongly shaped by what they see in the media, so many people may have distorted views about the risks of alcohol use,” he said.

“If the media doesn't report on the link between alcohol and violent crime and accidents, most people won't be fully aware of the risks. This may also decrease public support for alcohol control measures that can significantly reduce alcohol-related problems”

Slater conducted the study with Marilee Long and Valerie Ford of Colorado State University. Their results appear in the November 2006 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.

For this study, the researchers used estimates that alcohol plays a role in about one third (31.1 percent) of homicides and a third (31 percent)of fatal non-traffic injuries. The estimates come from a study of data from 331 medical examiner studies conducted between 1975 and 1995.

They used statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which estimated that 34 percent of accidents involved people who were legally intoxicated.

The researchers then examined coverage of crimes and accidents appearing in a national sample of daily newspaper, magazine and local television news, as well as national television news during a two-year period (2002-03). They determined the percentage of stories that linked alcohol use to specific violent crimes, injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

In all, they analyzed the content of about 1,000 daily newspaper editions, 550 television news programs, and 72 magazine issues. Newspapers and television stations were selected so they represented all regions of the country, in cities of various sizes. Three news magazines – Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report -- were also sampled, as were the three major television networks, CNN and USA Today.

This sample more closely approximates a truly representative national sample of media outlets than any previous study of which the researchers are aware, Slater said.

As expected, the media was most likely to report on alcohol use in motor vehicle accidents, but even then, they fell far short of estimated numbers, Slater said.

While alcohol is linked to 34 percent of motor vehicle accidents, only 12.8 percent of television stories, 19.2 percent of newspaper articles, and 22.2 percent of magazine articles about such accidents mentioned the use of alcohol, the study revealed.

For stories about fatal accidents not involving motor vehicles, alcohol was mentioned in 1.4 percent of television reports, 4.8 percent of newspaper stories and 13.6 percent of magazine articles. However, statistics suggest 31 percent of these accidents involve the use of alcohol.

The link between violent crime and alcohol use was also rarely acknowledged.

Estimates suggest alcohol plays a role in 31 percent of homicides, but it is mentioned in only 2.6 percent of television reports, 7.3 percent of newspaper accounts, and 5.6 percent of magazine reports of violent crime, with even lower percentages in the reporting of homicides.

As these figures show, television does the poorest job in reporting when accidents or crimes have a connection to alcohol use.

“The percentage of TV news stories about violent crime that mention the role of alcohol was less than one-tenth the estimated percentage that had such a link,” Slater said.

“By just watching TV news, most people would have little idea about the dangers of alcohol abuse when it comes to crime and accidents,” he said. “Even the print media doesn't give the complete story.”

The study also looked at media coverage of drug use and found that between 1.8 and 18.1 percent of reports about crimes or accidents mentioned the use of drugs. However, there were no estimates available about how often drug use was actually involved in these incidents.

The underreporting of the alcohol connection to crimes and accidents can be blamed on both police and news reporters, Slater said. Police departments may not mandate that officers mention in their reports if alcohol is suspected of playing a role in a violent crime or some types of accidental deaths. And reporters and their editors don't make it a habit to ask.

Whatever the reasons, Slater said it does make a difference.

“The underreporting of the contribution of alcohol to crime and accidents may make it more difficult for wide acceptance of strategies to control alcohol use,” he said.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.

Michael Slater | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

nachricht Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>