MD Critic: Does “Crime-Drenched” TV News Sway Public Opinion?


A survey reported by the Baltimore Sun finds that while residents feel their own neighborhoods are safe, they list crime as the city’s biggest probblem. Their number one source of information is local TV news, by a huge 50.7 percent vs. 16.8 percent for newspapers. Says Sun TV critic David Zurawik: “You can’t help but wonder if the crime-drenched late news on local TV is helping contribute to the perception citizens have that the city is unsafe, even though they say they feel quite safe in their own neighborhoods.”

Mayor Sheila Dixon, who commissioned the $60,000 survey by the Schaefer Center for Public Policy, says, “Of course, the great media helps us to keep reminding people that we have a serious problem, when overall we’ve reduced crime in all areas.” Zurawik asks readers, “Does local TV news shape your view of the city? Are all those images of police cars and crime scenes offering a skewed picture of the city that is at odds with your own experience?”

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