J.K. Rowling’s series of children’s books about Harry Potter, the boy wizard, depicts journalists in a decidedly unflattering light. The unethical reporter Rita Skeeter antagonizes Harry in the series’ fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, while The Daily Prophet, the wizarding world’s daily newspaper, portrays him as a mentally disturbed teenager crying wolf in the following book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Using second-level agenda setting as a theoretical framework, this study examined the extent to which the cognitive and affective attributes Rowling associates with journalists are salient in young readers. A survey of 657 college students age 18 to 22 was conducted, and results suggested that, on the contrary, readers of the fourth and fifth Potter books generally have more positive attitudes about journalists than those who did not read the books. However, an interesting interaction between respondents’ political attitudes and their readership of the books emerged. Readers who considered themselves more liberal politically associated more positive attributes to journalists than liberal non-readers, while conservative readers associated more negative attributes to journalists than conservative non-readers, suggesting that reading the fourth and fifth Potter books may be reinforcing readers’ existing schemata regarding media credibility.
- Media Credibility,
- Harry Potter,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/daxton_stewart/3/