New VNN series to focus on better coverage of issues

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 02/06/2021, 11:05 AM
Edited: 03/11/2021, 10:22 AM
(NATIONAL) When a crime news story breaks, the first step a news organization takes is reaching out to local law enforcement for information. The end result news product is usually accompanied by a “man-on-the-street” interview, often involving someone who knows little about the story, filmed around the location where the alleged crime took place. These steps are important to telling a story, but rarely result in telling of the whole story. That’s why Verified News Network (VNN) is launching “Community Voices”, a new video series designed to emphasize the narrative of the community, rather than local officials, when dealing with crime and other community issues. In a series of focus groups conducted on local news in Philadelphia in 2018, the Tow Center found that residents believe news media “consistently relies on the same sources for information, whether they be other news outlets or poorly executed police reports, and, subsequently, reproduces false narratives.” Residents also said they believed the media often consciously chooses sensationalism over substance. While having a good working relationship with local law enforcement and other officials is important to disseminating information, wrapping that information into an oversimplified news story for a same-day turn does a disservice to the communities who receive it. Following an analysis of sexual violence news coverage, the Berkeley Media Studies Group put it like this: “Many news stories are framed like portraits — they emphasize an individual’s role in causing or fixing problems. Stories that are framed this way leave little room to talk about the context of the problem and potential solutions. Far less frequently, the news frames stories like landscapes — these stories show the larger social conditions behind the issue. When people see “landscape” stories, they are more likely to view businesses, the government or other institutions as having a role to play in solving the problem.” Goals of “Community Voices” include researching various issues relating to the effects news has on community and policymaking, and interviewing community members and other experts nationwide to better understand the complex systems related to crime and society. Email your feedback about the new series to


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