Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Media underreport role of alcohol in crime, accidents

COLUMBUS , Ohio – 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 Source.

Slater, working on a grant from the NIAAA, doesn't ask why this underreporting happens. Might it have something to do with publishers' reluctance to risk offending alcohol industry advertisers?

No comments: