By Denise-Marie Ordway, writing for the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy:
When regional newspapers share photos of military veterans on Twitter, women and individuals who served during World War II are overrepresented, suggests a forthcoming study in Visual Communication Quarterly.
The first-of-its-kind study, led by researchers at the University of Alabama’s Veterans and Media Lab, offers a host of new insights into how news outlets portray veterans. That’s an important step toward understanding how the media shape public perception of the nation’s 18 million veterans — and how veterans see themselves, explains the paper’s lead author, Scott Parrott.
He says many Americans rely on the mass media — news reports, TV shows and movies — for information about veterans, but the picture presented is often incomplete or contradicts reality.
“There’s not much research at all concerning media representation of military veterans and that’s something we’re trying to change,” says Parrott, a former journalist who’s an associate professor in the University of Alabama department of journalism and creative media. “The media can be very powerful in influencing people’s attitudes and beliefs about different social groups, especially when people lack contact with those social groups.”
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