Online Program

Community violence across sectors: Findings from an analysis of California newspapers

Monday, November 2, 2015

Pamela Mejia, MPH, MS, Research Team, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Laura Nixon, MPH, Research Team, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Lori Dorfman, DrPH, Public Health Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Rachel Davis, MSW, Prevention Institute, Oakland, CA

Annie Lyles, MSW, Prevention Institute, Oakland, CA
Violence prevention is a cross-discipline effort. Since violence affects everyone in the community, all sectors must be part of conversations about the root causes of violence and just, sustainable solutions. Moreover all policies should address community safety - including policies from sectors like business and education.

News coverage can put violence prevention on the agenda and advance cross-discipline conversations about how to build strong, safe communities. As part of a project to broaden the conversation around community violence in California, we analyzed a scientifically selected sample of coverage from key California papers published between 2013-2014 that referenced community violence or community safety. We explored questions like: How do these concepts appear in the news? Who speaks, and whose voices are left out of the conversation? How does prevention appear? We also analyzed news articles covering business and education, where community violence typically does not appear, to assess how it could be included in coverage of those sectors.

Our initial findings indicate that stories about community violence and community safety rarely appear in the news – when they do, few speakers other than criminal justice representatives are quoted. In contrast to articles that are narrowly focused on incidents of criminal activity, articles about community violence and safety frequently reference solutions, but those solutions are more often policing strategies than public health approaches.

We discuss the implications of these and other findings for practitioners across sectors to inform their work to advance health in all policies, including the prevention of community violence.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe how community violence is framed in California news. Discuss how the business and education sectors can better include portrayals of violence as a preventable public health issue.

Keyword(s): Youth Violence, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a participating or lead researcher on multiple qualitative and quantitative research projects that focus on a range of public health issues, many of which relate to community violence and health outcomes. As lead researcher for this project, I developed all study protocols, collected data, and oversaw all aspects of data analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.