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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77004 Find in a Library
Title: Images of Delinquency in Twin Cities Newspapers
Author(s): M Baizerman; J Hirak
Corporate Author: University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station
United States of America
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 31
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station
St Paul, MN 55108
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This report on two studies of how issues are reported in Minnesota newspapers shows that only a small percentage of delinquent acts, those in which force is used, are reported.
Abstract: The first study concerned images of juvenile delinquency in major Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) newspapers. The data came from all editions of the four major dailies, during the period from July 1975 to June 1976. Images in news stories, in editorials, and in editorial headlines were analyzed. The other study focused on the issue of vandalism and the Metropolitan Transit Commission buses. Seven reports of incidents on the MTC published in the Twin Cities papers were analyzed. The issue of the no-cost youth fare on MTC vehicles was covered in general stories appearing in the press. Both studies showed that the image of delinquency in the newspapers was biased. Theft and violence were emphasized. Delinquents were presented as inherently bad, and if left untreated they would inevitably go wrong. There were unstated comparisons between images of healthy and less healthy (i.e., delinquent) modes of youth development. For example, one image might be about a high school football team and the other about a group of delinquent boys. It was rarely indicated that the boys in the 'gang' might also be the same boys who were on the football team. Phrases such as 'bad kids' tended to be associated with 'welfarism' and have racial overtones. Thus, newspapers contributed to and 'reinforced' delinquents and in turn, those newspaper images were used in everyday thought and work as a basis for public policy. The report suggests that newspaper staff learn about normal youth development so that comparisons can be made clearly. This could learn to the understanding that delinquent and nondelinquent are not always mutually exclusive categories. Statistical data, footnotes, and over 50 references are included. Additional information on the study and notes on youth workers are appended.
Index Term(s): Juvenile Delinquent behavior; Labeling theory; Media coverage; Minnesota; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Vandalism
Note: Miscellaneous report no. 169.
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