'Harry Potter' puts journalism in bad light for young readers

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Washington, Aug 1 (ANI): Harry Potter has come under fire after a new study claimed that the books in the boy wizard franchise might put journalistic integrity or journalism as a career in the bad light for children.

The analysis by Baylor University researchers has found an overwhelmingly negative representation of journalism throughout the first six books.

The findings have raised concerns that child readers will view journalism as corrupt, deceptive and an unattractive career choice.

"The books present an unnecessarily pessimistic view of journalism today. 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," said Dr. Amanda Sturgill, senior lecturer in journalism at Baylor and one of the study co-authors.

The research team analysed quotes from the first six books that made any mention of the media, including newspapers, magazines, radio and textbooks.

The researchers categorized the quotes and determined three frames in which media is viewed-government control of journalism, misleading journalism and unethical means of gathering information.

In the Harry Potter books, government control of the media was seen primarily in the wizard world between the Ministry of Magic and the newspaper The Daily Prophet.

The Daily Prophet appears to pressure the government and go around official sources, and several characters feel that the Ministry of Magic "leans heavily" on The Daily Prophet.

In other instances, The Daily Prophet contains misleading journalism -information that, while accurate in fact, leads readers to the wrong conclusion.

In this category, the study also includes occasions when the newspaper contained inaccurate or libelous content.

The study has cited attacks by the media on the character of a protagonist and speculation on the media's motivations.

The study's third category - unethical means of gathering information - encompasses activities that would be deemed illegal by U.S. law, as well as unethical in the profession.

The study pointed out that Rita Skeeter - the prominent but "corrupt journalist who writes with a complete disregard for accuracy, truthfulness and objectivity" - often conducts interviews with a "Quick Notes Quill," a magical quill that writes automatically as the subject speaks.

However, the study said that the quill does not record verbatim what the subject says. Instead, it takes a subject's words and creates sensational and inaccurate tales that bear little resemblance to actual events.

Overall, the study has found that there is little regard for accuracy in any form and there are no consequences or accountability for poor journalistic practices.

The study was originally published in the 2008 American Communications Journal. (ANI)

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