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International News Coverage of Human Trafficking Arrests and Prosecutions: A Content Analytic Study
Unformatted Document Text:  human trafficking awareness, legislation and policies. The media’s capability to shape the general public’s understanding of human trafficking is of considerable importance because too strong a focus by the media on the sexual exploitative side of trafficking can lead to ineffective policies and legislation seeking to end the phenomenon. This study attempted to eliminate the bias of the media through a collection and coding methodology that focused specifically on cases of human trafficking arrests and/or prosecutions. This study began with thousands of articles that dealt with human smuggling, human trafficking and sex trafficking. An original sample size in the thousands that diminishes to 191 separate incidents of human trafficking arrests/prosecutions suggests further research and analysis is required in order to better understand rates of human trafficking. My suggestion for the types of human trafficking research that should occur is detailed in the final section of this paper. The effect of the media on the general public’s perception of human trafficking Although online media sources depict only a small portion of human trafficking events, the importance of the media is found in its ability to shape public perception and policy. As described by Boots & Heide (2006), “the public draws conclusions from cases about which they become familiar [and] legislators, similar to their constituents, often formulate policy on what they know about a phenomenon, particularly when it is one that inflames passion (p. 435).”Boots & Heide’s concept is evident in human trafficking media coverage, and while the accuracy of what the media reports cannot be guaranteed for all 58

Authors: Denton, Erin.
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human trafficking awareness, legislation and policies.  The media’s capability to 
shape the general public’s understanding of human trafficking is of considerable 
importance because too strong a focus by the media on the sexual exploitative 
side of trafficking can lead to ineffective policies and legislation seeking to end 
the phenomenon.  This study attempted to eliminate the bias of the media 
through a collection and coding methodology that focused specifically on cases 
of human trafficking arrests and/or prosecutions.  This study began with 
thousands of articles that dealt with human smuggling, human trafficking and sex 
trafficking.  An original sample size in the thousands that diminishes to 191 
separate incidents of human trafficking arrests/prosecutions suggests further 
research and analysis is required in order to better understand rates of human 
trafficking.  My suggestion for the types of human trafficking research that should 
occur is detailed in the final section of this paper.
The effect of the media on the general public’s perception of 
human trafficking
Although online media sources depict only a small portion of human 
trafficking events, the importance of the media is found in its ability to shape 
public perception and policy.  As described by Boots & Heide (2006), “the public 
draws conclusions from cases about which they become familiar [and] 
legislators, similar to their constituents, often formulate policy on what they know 
about a phenomenon, particularly when it is one that inflames passion (p. 
435).”Boots & Heide’s concept is evident in human trafficking media coverage, 
and while the accuracy of what the media reports cannot be guaranteed for all 
58


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