A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Newsmagazine Cover Photos of Children as Ideology

Christine Gonzales, Georgia State University
Sarah Eschholz, Georgia State University

Compelling photos on the covers of newsmagazines provide images of current social problems and issues. The importance of these images may not be contingent on the article inside, and indeed many who see these covers never read the associated article. The covers may serve as reference points for policy makers and the general public when thinking about specific events, groups and social problems. Photos of children may be a particularly powerful conveyor of ideological messages, because they represent the future for our society. Powerful images of child victims and offenders may shape how many view the crime problem in the United States. This study will do a content analysis of the covers of the three most popular newsmagazines (Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Reports) in the United States between 1990 and 2000. Particular attention will focus on the race, age, sex and socio-economic background of the children portrayed, and will determine what types of individuals have become the cover children for social ills or social advances. For example are white females over-represented as 'innocent victims' and minority children, particularly males, portrayed as 'at-risk' or 'delinquent'?

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Updated 05/20/2006