Location, Location, Location: Urban & Suburban Crime on Local TV News
Even though crime has fallen in the United States in the past six years, public opinion polls indicate that crime and public safety are the over-riding concerns of citizens in communities. These polls tell us that a significant majority of our citizens get most of their information from local television news and, in general, they believe what they are being shown and told. In short, these newscasts play a pre-eminent role in the social construction of reality and, by extension, in forming the cognitive maps that citizens use to understand their communities. This paper examines how the press, particularly local television news, portrays the urban–suburban dimensions of crime in two major television markets in the U.S. Findings show that local newscasts in the markets differed significantly along the urban--suburban dimension of crime coverage. But they were consistent in the message that the city was a dangerous place. This paper suggests how this type of message in turn influences the shape of public policy responses.