Ericson et al (1991)
45%-71% of press and radio news was about crime (in Toronto).
Williams & Dickinson (1993)
UK newspapers devote 30% of news space to crime.
Media often distrorts crime criminals and policing
- Over-representing violent and sexual crime (Marsh).
- Portraying victims as more middle class and older than those found in criminal justice system (Felson: age fallacy).
- Exaggerating police success.
- Exaggerating risk of victimisation (especially to women, white people and higher status individuals).
- Reporting as series of separate events, without explaining causes.
- Overplaying extraordinary crimes, underplaying ordinary crimes (Felson: dramatic fallacy).
- Making us believe one needs to be daring and clever to commit crimes (Felson: ingenuity fallacy).
Violent crime 36x more likely to be reported than property crime.
Cohen & Young (1973):
News is social construction and this manufactured news goes through 'news values':
- Dramatisation - action and excitement
- Personalisation - human interest about individuals
- Higher status - persons and celebrities
- Simplification - eliminating grey areas
- Novelty/unexpectedness - a new angle
- Risk - victim centred stories about fear and vulnerability
- Violence - especially visible and spectacualr acts
Mandel (1984): fictional representations of crime
25% of prime time TV and 20% of films are crime related.
Ways media may cause crime & deviance:
- Imitation - deviant roles models leads to 'copycat' behaviour
- Arousal - viewing violent and sexual imagery
- Desensitisaion - repeated viewing of violence
- Giving knowledge of criminal techniques
- Stimulating desires for unaffordable goods (advertising)
- Portraying police as incompetent
- Glamourising offending
- Acting as a target for goods e.g. theft of TVs
Moral panic definition
Exaggerated over-reactions by society to a perceived problem (label) - usually inspired/driven by the media - where the reaction increases the problem out of all proportions to its real seriousness.
Moral panics often occur during social change and anomie/normlessness created by change. Mods & rockers panic due to 'boundary crisis', uncertainty where boundary lay between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in time of change.
Hall et al (1979):
Moral panics over 'mugging' in British media in 1970s distracted attention from crisis of capitalism. It divided the working class on racial grounds and legitimised more authoritarian style of rule.
McRobbie & Thornton (1995):
Moral panics are routine, have less impact, less consensus as to what is deviant so less panic compared to 40 years ago.
Modern examples of moral panics
- Mods and Rockers (scuffle was exaggerated, distorted and created a moral panic)
- 'Mad cow' disease
- Binge drinking
- Dangerous drugs
Thomas & Loader (2000):
Internet has led to fears of cyber crime = computer meditated activities that are illegal/considered illicit.
Internet creates chances to commit 'conventional crimes' e.g. fraud, and 'new crimes' using new tools e.g. software piracy. But, ICT gives better surveillance/CCTV/fingerprinting to the police.
Wall (2001): 4 categories of cyber crime
1. Cyber-trespass - crossing boundaries into other people's cyber property e.g. hacking, spreading viruses.
2. Cyber-deception and theft - identity theft, violation of intellectual property rights e.g. software piracy, illegal downloading (Swash, 2009: 95% of online music is downloaded illegally).
3. Cyber-p0rnography - including p0rn involving minors and opportunities for children to access it
4. Cyber-violence - includes cyber stalking (offensive, unwanted and threatening emails). Hate crimes against minorities, bullying via texts.