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Mormon Media Observer: Coverage of crisis of the American family under-covered story

Published: Monday, April 2 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

One of the most important insights that has emerged in recent decades from the study of the news media is that as the frequency of stories about certain issues rise, so does the public's perception of the importance of those issues.

Put another way, when you ask people what the most important issues are facing the county, they choose issues that correlate with how frequently issues are in the press. So, as news focuses on, say, the economy, so do voters.

And as voters focus on issues, so, naturally, do politicians. Things, therefore, get done.

Hence, the lack of coverage of these family issues by the mainstream press makes it less likely that people will talk about them and, therefore, less likely that any pressure will come to make policy change.

Are their useful governmental solutions to help address this crisis? Probably. Yet, these proposals have a hard time gaining traction amid low national attention.

What is the most important issue facing this county today? Obamacare? The economy? Possibly. Here's one vote that the declining norm of marriage may be the biggest threat to our long-term survival as a nation.

I, for one, think this issue needs more serious, focused, consistent and thoughtful attention by the nation's mainstream press. The coverage of this milestone study needed far more attention than it received.

The crisis of the American family is real and may be the most important issue in America today even if the press neglects it.

Lane Williams teaches journalism and communication at BYU-Idaho. He is a former journalist whose scholarly interests include Mormon portrayals in the media, media and religion, and religion and politics.

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