Crime, violence gets more media coverage - survey
Laura Redpath, Senior Gleaner Writer
A study carried out by Women's Media Watch shows that Jamaica, in comparison to other newspapers worldwide, reported less on the economy and more coverage was given to crime and violence.
For five randomly selected days in July last year, 323 news articles were sampled from 25 local newspapers and newscasts.
The "survey of women and men's participation in the news in Jamaica" shows that a third of the stories focused on crime and violence.
Crime and violence, according to the study, generally includes gender-based violence, theft, corruption, drugs, sexual violence, abuse of children, riots, terrorism, war, disasters and accidents.
Taitu Heron, board member of Women's Media Watch, asked individuals at last week's launch of the Global Media Monitoring Media Project regional report, to ask themselves, if Jamaicans were so traumatised by violence that they require such a steady diet of it in their news.
"I think we need to really think about how much (crime and violence) is balancing out with other things that are happening ... ," she said.
The second dominant category in coverage was politics and government, followed by the economy and transport, social and development issues and legal issues.
Each of these categories consisted of less than 20 per cent of the total number of stories sampled.
Twenty-seven stories covered science and health, while nine were about celebrities, arts, media and sports.
Only five stories covered education.
A section of the study dedicated to discussion of findings noted that questions surrounding the implications of coverage were raised.
The report raised concern over the potential implications of reporting twice as much on crime and violence than on economics, given that the latter is expected to fuel national development.
According to the study, the Women's Media Watch decided to survey the participation of women and men in Jamaican news media after the release of 1995 and 2005 reports on the Caribbean.
These summary reports, which focused on the Caribbean, were useful for training and advocacy once the data was taken into consideration, the report on Jamaica also stated.