Setting the Tone on Satanism: A Content Analysis of the Print Media




Stillwell, Lorinda Clare

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The treatment by newspapers and. magazines concerning Satanic topics is examined in this study. An overview of cults, sects, Satanism and characteristics of followers of Satanism is included. The research hypotheses are: 1) There are more ominous tones used in articles concerning Satanic topics than there are casual or neutral tones. 2) Most (>50%) of the newspaper and magazine articles that are printed concerning Satanic topics mention adolescents in their content. 3) In newspaper and magazine articles which mention adolescents, there are more ominous tones used than neutral or casual tones. The findings of this study actually disprove all three hypothesis. The most common tone used in newspaper and magazine articles about Satanic topics was neutral, not ominous as hypothesis 1 suggested. Of the newspaper and magazine articles, 36% mentioned adolescents, while 37% of the magazine articles mentioned adolescents. This is less than the 50% or greater that hypothesis 2 suggested. The most common tone used in magazine articles about Satanic topics which also mentioned adolescents was neutral, which was not predicted by hypothesis 3. In the newspaper articles which mention adolescents, there was a tie between ominous and neutral, both with 44 % . Thus, there were not more ominous articles than either neutral or casual tones as hypothesis 3 suggested. One interesting finding was that both newspaper and magazines used more ominous tones in articles mentioning teens than in the articles concerning Satanism as a whole.



Satanism, press coverage, mass media


Stillwell, L.C. (1999). Setting the tone on Satanism: a content analysis of the print media (Unpublished thesis). Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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