Children Now Research

Local TV News Distorts Real Picture of Children

Local Television newscasts present a fun house--or more accurately, horror house--mirror of children in American society.

A survey of local newscasts in six metropolitan areas across the U.S. by UCLA researchers found:

These distortions are meaningful because people act not on objective reality, but the pictures in their heads--many of which are supplied by TV news.

“By rarely covering children and when they do, reporting primarily negative stories, local television news marginalizes many issues that directly impact children’s lives,” says Patti Miller, director of Children Now’s Children and the Media program. “This sends the wrong message to children, parents, voters and policy makers.”

The study was conducted during the month of July in New York, Atlanta, Boston, Des Moines, Los Angeles and Seattle. Researchers analyzed the early evening local newscasts of network-affiliated stations. No San Francisco stations were included.

Children Now, headquartered in Oakland, is a national organization that advocates for children.

For details of the study (which was virtually ignored by Bay Area news media) go to the Children Now website.