Crime and the media

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  • Crime and the media
    • Media representations of crime
      • British newspapers devote up to 30% news space to crime.
      • The media gives a distorted view of crime. Compared with OS:
        • Media over-represent violent and sexual crime, portray criminals and victims as older and more m/c, exaggerate police success and the risk of victimisation, and they overplay extraordinary crimes.
      • News is socially constructed. Cohen & Young - news is manufactured, as it is a social process whereby some potential stories are selected while others rejected.
      • 'News values' is a key element, as this is what journalists/ editors decide whether a story is newsworthy.
      • Immediacy, dramatisation, personalisation, higher-status persons, risk and violence are key values influencing the selection.
      • Mandel - estimates from 1945 to 1984 over 10 billion crime thrillers were sold worldwide. 25 % of prime TV and 20% of films are crime shows or movies.
      • Surette - states that fictional representations follow 'law of opposites' as they are opposite to the OS.
        • Property crime is under-represented while violence, drugs and sex crimes are over.
        • Fictional sex crimes are committed by psychopathic strangers and not acquaintances.
        • But they show three recent trends: the shows feature young, non-white 'underclass' offenders, tendency to show corrupt police, brutal and less successful, and victims are more central, police as avengers etc.
    • The media as a cause of crime
      • The media have a negative effect on attitudes, values and behaviour. 'Video nasties', rap lyrics and computer games have been criticised for encouraging violence and criminality.
      • The media might cause crime and deviance through, imitation, arousal, desensitation, transmitting knowledge, stimulating desires and glamourising crime.
      • But research is done by lab experiments - artificial and doesn't measure long-term.
      • Media exaggerates the amount of violent crime and exaggerate the risks of certain groups becoming victims.
      • Schlesinger & Tumber - tabloid readers annd heavy users of TV express greater fear of gong out at night and of becoming a victim.
      • Lea & Young - media increase realtive deprivation among marginalised groups as even the poorest have media access.
      • This presents people with the materialisic 'good life' and stimulates relative deprivation and social exclusion as they can't afford this.
    • Moral panics
      • Moral panic - exaggerated and irrational over-raction by society to a perceived problem, where the reaction enlarges te problem.
      • Use Cohen's mods and rockers explain (reference to labelling theory) and deviance amplification spiral.
      • Cohen notes that the media's deinition of the situation is crucia; in creating a moral panic, as most people rely on the media for information due to lack of personal experience.
      • Cohen doesn't explain why the media are able to amplify some problems into a panic, but not others, nor why panics come to an end rather than continuing to amplify indefinitely.
      • Argues that they are a result of a boundary crisis.
        • Where there is uncertainity about where the boundary lies between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in a time of change.
      • Functionalists see moral panics as a reponse to anomie create by change. By dramatising the threat, the media raise the collective consciousness and reassert social controls when central values are threatened.
      • Neo-Marxists - Hall et al the moral panic over 'mugging' served to distract attention from the crisis of capitalism.
    • Global cybercrime
      • Thomas & Loader - define cybercrime as cumputer-mediated activities that are either illegical or considered illicit.
      • Jewkes - the internet creates opportunites to comit both conventional crimes like fraud and new crimes using new tools, such as software piracy.
      • Wall - identifies four categories of cybercrime:
        • Cyber-trespass - hacking.
        • Cyber-deception - identity theft.
        • Cyber-pornography.
        • Cyber-violence - text bullying.

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