|Activities involving crime and deviance are often the focus of the media. These events and phenomena are portrayed in the news and these portrayals often serve as contexts people use to understand and logically explain the world around them. Sometimes events filtered through the media relate to occurrences near the individual. As such, they are easily understood. However, most news coverage deals with events far removed from the actual happenings of personal life, thereby serving to transfer understanding and create sympathy for or against groups of people with which most viewers will not have personal contact. Of interest in the current research is the change in coverage of religious cults over a ten-year period. The analysis includes five years preceding the events surrounding the religious cult in Waco, Texas and five years after these events. Data from the Vanderbilt Television news archive will be used to compare the two groups. The analysis will focus on the length, position, type of story and tone of the broadcast. Each are hypothesized to measure the change in emphasis and importance given to religious cult stories during the ten-year period.
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