Media Representation of crime
William and Dickinson (1971) found British newspapers devote 30% of their space to crime
Media gives a distorted image of crime, criminals and policing compared to official statistics. The media:
Over representation of violent and sexual crime
Ditton and Duffy (1983) found 46% of media reports were about sexual or violent crime, compared to the actual 3% of crime records for this kind of crime. Marsh found violent crimes were 36 times more likely to be recorded in newspapers than property crime- America
Media portray criminals and victims as older and more middle class
Felson (1998) calls this the ‘age fallacy’
Media exaggerate police success
Partly due ...view middle of the document...
This is not the case, as the victim usually knows rapists.
News values and crime coverage
News is a social construction; it is chosen over other stories. Jock Young and Stan Cohen (1973) note that news is usually manufactured.
‘News worthy’ is an aspect of manufacturing news. Journalists decide if a news story is worthy of coverage through criteria. If it meets the criteria, it has a good chance of being covered.
* Dramatisation- action and excitement
* Personlisation- human interest story
* People of higher status
* Unexpected/ novelty
One reason why media focus on crime coverage is because news focuses on the unusual and extraordinary and this makes deviance newsworthy by definition.
Fictional representation of crime
Fictional representations of crime, criminals and victims follow what Surette calls ‘the laws of opposite’; they are opposite to statistics and strikingly similar to news coverage:
* Property crime is under represented, but violence, drugs and sex crimes are over represented
* Most homicides are from brawls and domestic disputes, fictional ones are product of greed and calculation
* Fictional sex crimes are committed by psychopaths
* Fictional cops get their man
However, 3 new trends are appearing:
* New ‘reality’ informant shows tend to feature young, non white, underclass offenders
* Tendency to show police as brutal and corrupt
* Victims play more central role and audience are meant to identify with them
The media as a cause of crime
For a long time media has been blamed for influencing values, attitudes and behaviour found people who watch TV…negatively.
There numerous ways in which media might cause crime and deviance:
* Imitation- providing deviant role model: ‘copycat’
* Desensitization- repeated viewing of violence
* Transmitting knowledge of criminal technique
* Stimulating desires for unaffordable goods
* Glamorizing crime
* Making police seem incompetent
Thousands of studies have been conducted on possible affects of media but most studies have found that exposure to media violence has limited affect.
Sonia Livingstone (1996) notes despite such conclusions, people continue to be preoccupied on effects of media on children because society regard childhood as an innocent time.
Fear of crime
Due to media’s exaggeration of crime, public have an unrealistic fear of crime.
There is research that supports the view that there is a link between media and fear of crime. In the USA, Gerbner et al found people who watch TV for over 4 hours a day had a higher level of fear towards crime. Similarly, Schlesinger and Tumber (1992) a correlation between consumption and fear of crime: tabloid readers expressed greater fear of being a victim.
However, the correlations don’t prove media have influence over but maybe people who get scared easily may stay at home more and...