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Media Use and Exposure to Graphic Content in the Week Following the Boston Marathon Bombings


Traditional and new media inform and expose the public to potentially distressing graphic content following disasters, but predictors of media use have received limited attention. We examine media-use patterns after the Boston Marathon bombings (BMB) in a representative national U.S. sample (n = 2888), with representative oversamples from metropolitan Boston (n = 845) and New York City (n = 941). Respondents completed an Internet-based survey 2-4 weeks post-BMB. Use of traditional media was correlated with older age, prior indirect media-based exposure to collective traumas, and direct BMB exposure. New media use was correlated with younger age and prior direct exposure to collective traumas. Increased television and online news viewing were associated with exposure to more graphic content. The relationship between traditional and new media was stronger for young adults than all other age groups. We offer insights about the relationship between prior collective trauma exposures and media use following subsequent disasters and identify media sources likely to expose people to graphic content.

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