Beyond Violence and Villains: How Local Television News Frames Key Sources in Crime Narratives
Jan Lauren Boyles, Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication Abstract: Culturally, television plays an important role in developing social identity (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Signorielli & Shanahan, 2002). For local television news stations, crime stories occupy a prominent place in nightly broadcasts. Building upon prior literature, this study illustrates how television newscasts frame crime stories for audiences. Based upon a content analysis of local news programming from three Washington, DC network affiliates, the researchers examined how news reporters and anchors construct social identity for three key sources mentioned in crime stories: perpetrators, witnesses and victims. While crime was featured prominently in the first block of newscast content, television reporters and anchors rarely contextualized sources within the narratives, instead relying heavily upon demographic descriptions of these individuals, such as age and gender.