Altheide, David L.

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Altheide, David L.

PERSONAL: Male. Education: Central Washington State College, B.A., 1967; University of Washington, N.D.E.A., 1969; University of California, San Diego, Ph.D., 1974.

ADDRESSES: Home—741 E. Granada Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281. Office—School of Justice and Social Inquiry, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0403; fax: 480-965-8187, 480-965-9199. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Southern Colorado State College, instructor, 1968–70, assistant professor, 1970–71, acting department chair, 1971; University of California, San Diego, teaching assistant, 1971–72; Grossmont College, San Diego, part-time instructor, 1971–72; Chapman College, San Diego, part-time instructor, 1972–73; San Diego State University, part-time instructor, 1972; Arizona State University, Tempe, visiting assistant professor, 1974–75, assistant professor, 1975–79, associate professor of sociology, 1979–92, associate professor in the Center for the Study of Justice, 1982–83, professor in the School of Justice Studies, 1983–90, Regents' Professor, 1990–, interim director, school of justice studies, 2000–01. University of Lund, Lund, Sweden, visiting professor of sociology, 1981; University of Lancaster, department of sociology, honorary research fellow, 1988; Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, teaching fellow, 2002.

MEMBER: Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (vice president elect, 1989–90, president elect, 1993, president, 1994–95).

AWARDS, HONORS: Research fellowship, Television and Politics Study Program of the School of Public and International Affairs at George Washington University, 1981; grants from the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 1984, the Kaltenbom Foundation, 1985; Charles Horton Cooley Award, Society for the Study of Symbolic Interactionism, 1985, for Media Power, and 2004, for Creating Fear; Premio Diego Fabbri Award, Ente dello Spettacolo (Italy), 1986, for Creating Reality: How TV News Distorts Events; Graduate College Distinguished Research Award, Arizona State University, 1990–91; Faculty Achievement Award, School of Justice Studies, 1994, 1996; George Herbert Mead Award, Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, 2005, for career contributions; numerous research support grants from Arizona State University.


Creating Reality: How TV News Distorts Events, with an introduction by Arthur J. Vidich, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1976.

(With Robert P. Snow) Media Logic, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1979.

(With John M. Johnson) Bureaucratic Propaganda, Allyn & Bacon (Boston, MA), 1980.

Media Power, Sage Publications (Beverly Hills, CA), 1985.

(With Robert P. Snow) Media Worlds in the Postjournalism Era, Aldine de Gruyter (New York, NY), 1991.

An Ecology of Communication: Cultural Formats of Control, Aldine de Gruyter (New York, NY), 1995.

Qualitative Media Analysis, Sage Publications (Thousand Oaks, CA), 1996.

Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis, Aldine de Gruyter (New York, NY), 2002.

Terrorism and the Politics of Fear, AltaMira Press (Lanham, MD), 2006.

Contributor to scholarly journals, including the Sociological Quarterly, Symbolic Interaction, and Qualitative Inquiry. Contributor of entries for encyclopedias, handbooks, and readers.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Research in mass communication, qualitative research methods, deviant behavior, propaganda and official information, and social control.

SIDELIGHTS: David L. Altheide has spent more than thirty years studying and writing about the media, propaganda, and other methods of mass communication. His research is conducted through qualitative research, including interviews, ethnology, and document and media analysis, generally using the symbolic interaction model of sociology. In lay terms, Altheide studies how the mass media operate and how the interaction of the media and those who consume the media's news stories shapes people's ideas about reality. This interaction generally results in Americans holding deeply flawed views about the world, as Altheide illustrates in such books as Creating Reality: How TV News Distorts Events and Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis. In the latter title, Altheide discusses the shift in journalism towards stories that are designed to produce fear in their audience, such as stories about crime and how to protect oneself from criminals, and the negative effect that such stories have on society. He argues that the pervasive sense of fear caused by such stories was behind the popular "tough on crime" policies of recent years—policies which have led to an ever-increasing portion of the low-income and minority population being sent to prison for longer and longer terms. "Altheide provides a useful conceptual framework for making sense of the expansion of fear in contemporary societies," Frank Furedi remarked in the American Journal of Sociology. Writing in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Allan Brawley concluded that Creating Fear "is an accessible and articulate presentation of important research that is part of a large body of scholarship with which more social workers, social scientists, policymakers and media professionals should be familiar."



American Journal of Sociology, September, 2002, Frank Furedi, review of Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis, p. 524.

Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, June, 2003, Allan Brawley, review of Creating Fear, p. 179.

Social Forces, September, 1994, David L. Paletz, review of Media Worlds in the Postjournalism Era, p. 344.


Arizona State University Web site, (February 22, 2006), "School of Justice and Social Inquiry."

David L. Altheide Home Page,∼atdla (February 22, 2006).