Crime & the Media

Media Representations of Crime

Media representation of crime

  • Over-represents violent & sexual crime
  • Exaggerates police success
  • Exaggerates the risk of victimisation
  • Overplays extraordinary crimes

News Values & Crime Coverage

  • Immediacy
  • Dramatisation
  • Personalisation
  • High-status persons
  • Simplification
  • Novelty or unexpectedness
  • Risk
  • Violence
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Media Representations of Crime (2)

Fictional Representations of Crime

  • Property crime is under-represented, while violence, drugs & sex crimes are over-represented
  • Fictional sex crimes are committed by strangers rather than acquaintances
  • Fictional police are usually successful

Recent Trends

  • Reality shows tend to feature non-white underclass offenders
  • There is an increasing tendency to show police as corrupt & less successful
  • Victims have become more central
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The Media as a Cause of Crime

How the Media Causes Crime & Deviance

  • Imitation
  • Arousal
  • Desensitisation
  • Transmitting Knowledge
  • Stimulating Desires
  • Glamourising crime
  • Schesinger & Tumber: Tabloid readers & heavy users of TV had a greater fear of crime
  • Lea & Young: The media increase relative deprivation among marginalised groups by transmitting images of a materialistic "good life" as the goal to which they should strive
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Moral Panics

  • The media identify a group of people as a folk devil
  • The media negatively stereotype the group & exaggerate the problem
  • The authorities condemn the behaviour of the group, leading to calls for a "crackdown"
  • This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy, amplifying the problem
  • As more deviants are identified, calls for tougher action lead to a deviance amplification spiral

The Mods & Rockers - Three elements of media overreaction

  • Exaggeration & distortion
  • Prediction
  • Symbolisation

The deviance amplification spiral

  • By making it appear that the problem was getting out of hand
  • By defining the two groups & emphasising their supposed differences
  • Functionalists: Moral panics are a reaction to normlessness
  • Marxists: Moral panics help to distract from capitalism
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