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Local media use in Chicago, crime and police

Patricia Cruz



The study “Trial by Media?: Media Use, Fear of Crime, and Attitudes Toward Police” by Soo Young Shin and Brendan R. Watson from Michigan State University studies the cultivation effects of local media use in relation to residents’ fear of crime and attitudes toward police. The study was located in Chicago, a city that struggles with gang violence and police misconduct.

Cultivation theory claims that media shapes the way people view the world. When it comes to crime, the media presentation has been dubbed the “mean world syndrome”, meaning that the world is presented as more dangerous than it actually is. This then affects the audience perception,

Previous empirical studies have demonstrated the link between cultivating the audience perception to match the “mean world syndrome” presented particularly when it comes to local news. The audience, based on such news, is also likely to view the police in more positive terms. 

Romer, Jamieson and Aday (2003) have shown that local media use is the strongest predictor of audience’s crime perception. However, while TV has been studied extensively, fewer studies exist of other media.

This study was conducted in 2018 as an online survey of 626 Chicago residents. They were drawn from an online panel and incentivized with a small cash donation. They were selected with non-random quota sampling, and the sample when it comes to race roughly matched Chicago’s 2017 Census Bureau estimates. 

African Americans were intentionally oversampled to particularly study the differences in regards to them, as the local news media had covered police brutality that disproportionately affects African Americans and was one variable in the study via officer Van Dyke who had killed a Black teenager. The sample was 50,3 % African American.

The other races in the sample were Caucasian 27,2%, Hispanic or Latinx 17,6%, Asian 3,5%, mixed race 0,6% and other 0,3 %. The median age of the respondents was 37. Females were slightly overrepresented at 67,7%. Politically, the sample also matched Chicago.

In regards to media use and fear of crime, there was a positive correlation as hypothesized. However, contrary to previous studies, radio use, rather than TV, was the strongest predictor of fear of crime, having the largest effect, followed by TV and then social media.

The findings likely reflect the outcome of particular reporting practices rather than essential features of any given medium, as radio often had brief summaries that generated instant reactions.

In line with previous studies, audience perceptions towards police was influenced in positive ways. However, when it comes to attitudes towards Van Dyke, there was a racial difference between Caucasians and Non-Caucasians. 

Caucasians appeared to be unwilling to condemn Van Dyke as the media exposure had no effect on their perception of Van Dyke. For others, exposure to the case was related with negative perceptions of Van Dyke.

In light of vexing disparities in policing, it is unsurprising that there were racial fault lines in attitudes toward the police. African-Americans also had a more negative view of the police overall regardless of exposure. 

The disparity from the viewing of Van Dyke killing Laquan McDonald was clear when it comes to race, as different races drew vastly different conclusions about Chicago polices’ use of force from the killing. 

It was found out that the fear of crime did not always mediate the effects of the respondent’s opinions about Chicago police. The heightened fear of crime did not facilitate positive views of the police, but it did in some cases mitigate the views toward Van Dyke. However, these effects were minimal.

The authors summarize that varying perspectives of victims, minorities and residents of high crime areas influence the effect of the media cultivation effect on people’s perceptions. Much also depends on the context, such as whether one investigates attitudes toward the police in general or a particular officer, and to what extent people identify with the actors in such cases. 

A notable finding was also that despite the numerous cases of police misconduct, the effect of media exposure did not negatively impact the view towards the police. In fact, the negative impact was only seen on the case of specific officers and then, based on the audience’s race.

The article “Trial by Media?: Media Use, Fear of Crime, and Attitudes Toward Police” by Soo Young Shin and Brendan R. Watson is in Journalism Practice. (free abstract).

Picture: Untitled by Matt Popovich,

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The benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start

Alice Trout



In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life. Between work, family, and other responsibilities, we often forget to take care of ourselves. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgment. In this article, we will explore the benefits of practicing mindfulness and how to start.

Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety

Mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. By focusing on the present moment, you can calm your mind and reduce racing thoughts.

  1. Improves mental clarity

Practicing mindfulness can improve mental clarity and focus. It can help to clear your mind of distractions and increase productivity.

  1. Enhances self-awareness

Mindfulness can increase self-awareness and help you to understand your thoughts and emotions better. By being present in the moment, you can learn to recognize your patterns of thinking and behavior.

  1. Improves relationships

Mindfulness can help to improve relationships by increasing empathy and compassion. By being present with others, you can develop a deeper understanding of their needs and feelings.

How to Start Practicing Mindfulness

  1. Set aside time

Set aside a specific time every day to practice mindfulness. It can be as little as 5-10 minutes per day to start.

  1. Find a quiet space

Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. It could be a quiet corner of your home or a quiet park.

  1. Focus on your breath

Focus on your breath and the physical sensations of breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.

  1. Be present

Allow yourself to be present in the moment without judgment. Let your thoughts and emotions come and go without dwelling on them.

  1. Practice regularly

Make mindfulness a regular practice. It takes time to develop the habit, but the benefits are worth it.

In conclusion, practicing mindfulness can have numerous benefits for our mental and physical well-being. It’s a simple yet powerful practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. By setting aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, we can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental clarity, and enhance our relationships. So why not give it a try? Your mind and body will thank you for it.

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How to create a perfect morning routine for a productive day

Alice Trout



Do you ever feel like your day has gotten away from you before it even starts? One way to combat this feeling is to create a perfect morning routine. Establishing a routine can help you start your day off on the right foot, and set the tone for a productive and successful day. Here are some tips on how to create a morning routine that works for you.

Determine Your Priorities

Before you start creating a morning routine, it’s important to determine what your priorities are. What are the things that you want to accomplish in the morning? Do you want to exercise, meditate, or have a healthy breakfast? Once you have a list of your priorities, you can start creating a routine that includes them.

Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body’s natural sleep cycle and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help establish a consistent routine and make it easier to stick to.

Take Time for Yourself

Many people feel rushed and stressed in the morning, but taking some time for yourself can help alleviate this feeling. Whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee, taking time for yourself can help you start your day feeling calm and centered.


Exercise is a great way to start your day, as it can help increase your energy levels and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick jog, yoga practice, or weightlifting session, try to include some form of exercise in your morning routine.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Eating a healthy breakfast can help fuel your body and provide the energy you need to start your day. Try to include protein, whole grains, and fruit or vegetables in your breakfast.

Plan Your Day

Taking a few minutes to plan your day can help you stay focused and productive. Make a to-do list or set priorities for the day, and review your calendar to make sure you’re prepared for any meetings or appointments.

Stick to Your Routine

Once you’ve created a morning routine that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. Consistency is key, and sticking to your routine can help establish healthy habits and improve your overall productivity.

In conclusion, creating a perfect morning routine can help set the tone for a productive and successful day. By determining your priorities, waking up at the same time every day, taking time for yourself, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, planning your day, and sticking to your routine, you can create a morning routine that works for you. Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle.

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10 simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in your daily life

Alice Trout



Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, but it can have a negative impact on our mental and physical health if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. In this article, we will explore 10 such methods that you can easily incorporate into your routine.

Exercise regularly

Physical activity is an excellent way to relieve stress. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters. You don’t have to engage in high-intensity workouts to reap the benefits. Even a brisk walk or light yoga can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep

Lack of sleep can cause irritability, mood swings, and increase stress levels. Make sure you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night to feel well-rested and refreshed.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing can help to calm your mind and body. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this for a few minutes to feel relaxed.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature can have a calming effect on your mind and body. Take a walk in the park or go for a hike in the woods to feel rejuvenated.

Practice mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. Set aside a few minutes every day to practice mindfulness meditation.

Listen to music

Music has a soothing effect on our minds. Listening to calming music can help to reduce stress levels. Create a playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes and listen to it when you feel stressed.

Practice yoga or tai chi

Yoga and tai chi are ancient practices that combine physical postures and breathing techniques. They can help to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation.

Connect with loved ones

Talking to friends and family members can help to reduce stress levels. It can provide a sense of comfort and support during challenging times.

Practice gratitude

Focusing on the positive aspects of life can help to reduce stress levels. Make a habit of practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for every day.

Take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day can help to reduce stress levels. Go for a short walk, practice deep breathing or simply take a few moments to close your eyes and relax.

In conclusion, stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. By incorporating these simple yet effective methods into your daily routine, you can reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. Remember, taking care of yourself should always be a top priority.

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