Making the Movies Real: The Death Penalty & Local TV News

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Center for Community Research & Service
Media organizations, particularly the broadcast media, have become extremely important actors on the public stage over the last three decades. As a result, what the media chose to cover and how they chose to cover it is an important question. That is magnified when the media turn their attention to a public policy issue like the death penalty that already possesses profound social significance. In no other area of public policy can the state impose its will so completely and finally on an individual citizen. Therefore, the public should understand the issues that surround capital punishment. That understanding is virtually always communicated through media organizations because very few of us have first-hand knowledge of the death penalty. In this paper, I explore how television broadcast organizations cover the imposition of the death penalty. How did they carry it out? What themes did they convey? What did the public learn?
Death penalty, Media, Public policy, TV news, Local TV news, Crime, Media
Crime, Law and Social Change, Vol. 26, No. 4, 1996/1997, pp.303-328
Yanich, D. (1996). Making the Movies Real: The Death Penalty & Local TV News. Newark, DE: Center for Community Research & Service; The Graduate School of Urban Affairs & Public Policy; University of Delaware.