'Potter' bad for newspapers?

July 30, 2009 at 11:57 PM
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WACO, Texas, July 30 (UPI) -- The way newspapers are represented in the Harry Potter books could have a negative impact on young people's understanding of journalism, U.S. researchers say.

Study co-author Amanda Sturgill, senior lecturer in journalism at Baylor University, says in a news release an analysis of the first six books in author J.K. Rowling's best-selling series about the boy wizard found overwhelmingly negative representation of journalism. Sturgill said the concern is that young readers will come away with a perception that journalism is corrupt, deceptive and an unattractive career choice.

"Since literature can play an important role in helping children learn and possibly empathize with situations experienced by the characters, the potential for influence on journalism is strong," she said.

Sturgill and study co-authors Jessica Winney of the University of Houston-Clear Lake and Tina Libhart of Baylor, analyzed quotes that mentioned media, including newspapers, magazines, radio and textbooks.

The books feature a newspaper in the wizard world called The Daily Prophet, which frequently publishes misleading or inaccurate information, and employs a reporter -- Rita Skeeter -- who demonstrates what the researchers call "a complete disregard for accuracy, truthfulness and objectivity."

The full study can be found at: http://www.acjournal.org/holdings/vol10/01_Spring/articles/sturgill_etal.php.

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