America's Teenagers--Myths and Realities: Media Images, Schooling, and the Social Costs of Careless Indifference

By Sharon L. Nichols; Thomas L. Good | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Youth and Media

Every generation Blames the one before And all of their frustrations Come beating on your door

—Lyrics from the "The Living Years," by Mike and the Mechanics

Expressions of concern about children and media—or more accurately, about content from "outside" that media make available to children—can be traced back at least to Plato's defense of censorship in The Republic, and have continued with the introduction of each new medium.

—Kaiser Family Foundation Report, Kids and Media (1999) 1

The stories the press tell are shaped not by a "liberal agenda" or a "right-wing conspiracy" but by the desire to case the news in a dramatic, easily packaged form.

—The Press Effect, 2003 2

In the 2001 report published by the Frameworks Institute, What's the Matter With Kids Today, 3 the authors' analysis of how youth are portrayed on TV leads them to the observation that youth are commonly depicted in the news as dangerous or endangered and involved in some personal crisis or social conflict. But before we despair of the state of today's youth, we might wish to ask whether news stories about youth are fair and accurate.

The media provide a selective lens on what makes "good" news, whether it is tragic, sensational, ironic, or threatening. From the New York Times motto "All the news that's fit to print" to the legendary Walter Cronkite's

-30-

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