Dangers of Alcohol: Better information through the media?
The public would see the dangers of alcohol in a different light if the media actually reported more of the role played by alcohol in traffic crashes, violent crimes and injuries. We underestimate the devastation of alcohol because we hear less than 2 percent of the alcohol involvement in homicides, even though statistics show that alcohol is involved in about one third of all homicides (1). A community’s concern about alcohol and its risks, the community support raised in addressing youth access and control measures on reducing alcohol related problems is linked directly to what we hear and see in the media. The less the media reports the less we know (2). Evidence shows that alcohol is linked to 34% of motor vehicle accidents, yet only 12.8% of television stories, 19.2 % of newspaper articles, and 22.2 % of magazine articles mention the use of alcohol in the reported stories. (1)Stories concerning fatal accidents not involving motor vehicles mentioned links of alcohol in 1.4% of television reports, 4.8 % of newspaper articles, and 13.6 percent of magazine articles. The statistics however showed that 31% of these fatalities involved alcohol use (3). The study also showed that alcohol played a part in 31% of homicides, however, this link was mentioned in a mere 2.6 percent of television reports, 7.3 % of newspaper articles, and 5.6% of magazine articles(3). You may note that television does the worst job of reporting stories and showing the link between crime, accidents and alcohol. Failure of our media sources to inform us of these issues keeps the public out of touch on the true dangers of alcohol and impairs our ability to make changes in policies to control its use in society. This impairment affects our children and youth. More evidence to prove that knowledge is power. It also shows that in order to maintain control we limit the knowledge we allow our citizens to have.
Hiawatha N. Bouldin, Jr.,CPS
(1) Journal of Studies on Alcohol
(3) 1000 daily newspapers, 550 television stations, 72 magazines
which represented entire country; Newsweek, Time, U.S. News, World Report were included
Major television included CNN & USA Today