violence in the media

Violence in the Media

tv_violence_2.bmpThe exploration this week concerns the issue of violence in the media; the goal is to heighten your awareness of the current patterns of violence on television. Politicians, journalists, various community groups, and many, many others have been criticizing television producers and the television networks with increasing intensity in recent years concerning the amount and degree of violence depicted. Some counter that there is much more violence on the network news than on fictionalized television programs, suggesting that these television programs simply reflect a very violent society. These discussions and assertions rarely include actual data to support anyone’s claims. This exploration, therefore, emphasizes the role of research in this dialogue, and may provide a reality check against some of the claims and accusations that have garnered a lot of attention.

This week, you will watch 30-minutes of one of the following three types of programs on a major network: a children’s morning or after-school cartoon, a prime-time program, and the network news. Your task is to watch your selected program carefully and code the various acts of aggression and related incidents. While watching the program, code the content for various scenes of physical or verbal aggression or related issues using the following coding system. In the column, keep track of the number of violent incidents and aggressive acts, both physical and verbal, shown in your program.

Acts of Aggression
Television Program

Physical assaults that involve using a weapon or object
Physical assaults that do not involve a weapon or object
Verbal threats of harm
Insults or derogatory remarks
Violent deaths
Accidents in which someone is hurt

Review your findings and calculate the number of the various incidents for each category of program. Post your results.

Are the actual numbers higher or lower than you would have expected?
Compare your results with those of your classmates.
How does the aggression depicted in the type of program you watched compare with the other types of television programming?
What are the implications of your findings?

If your results suggest that there is a great deal of violence on television, this would support the research discussed in the text. If your results suggest the opposite:

Why do you think this finding is discrepant from those often reported? i.e., Is TV in the process of changing?
Was the sample used in this exercise too small or unrepresentative?
Are the reports from groups opposed to TV violence not objective?