Media represenations of crime
The media give a distorted image of crime, criminals and polcing. Compared with pictures of crime we gain from offical statistics;
- the media over-represented violent and sexual crime; Ditton+ Duffy found that 46% of media reports were abour violent or sexual crimes, yet these only made up 3% of all crimes recorded by police.
- media protray criminals and victims as older + middle class; Than those typically found on the justice sstem.
- Media coverage exaggerates police sucess; this is because police are a major source of crime stories and want to present themselves in a good light.
- Media exaggerate the risk of victimisation; especially to women, white people and higher status individuals
- media overplay extrodinary crimes; and underplay ordinary crimes. 'dramatic fallacy'
Schlesinger and tumber (1994)
- In the 1960's the focus had been on murders and petty crime, but by the 1990's murder and petty crime were of less interest to the media.
- the change came about becuase of the abolition of the death penalty and becuase rising crime rates.
- by 1990's reporting widened to include drugs, child abuse, terrorism, football hooliganism and mugging.
News values and crime coverage
- The distored picture of crime painted by the news media refelcts the fact that new is a social construction.
- news does not simply exist waiting to be written up. but it is the outcome of social process in which some potential stories are selected while others are rejected
- not discovered it is manufactured
- news values are the criteria by which journalists and ediors decide whether the story is newsworthy enough to make it into the newspaper.
- for example it has better chance of making news if it icludes; drama, personalistation, higher status or risk.
Fictional representations of crime
- images dont just come from the news. for example the tv, cinimea and books are also important sources of our knowledge of crime.
- Mandel estimates that from 1945-1984 over 10 billion crime thrillers were sold worldwide.
- fictional representation of crime, criminals and victims follow what is called 'the law of opposites' they are the opposite to offical statistics and simular to new coverage.
- property crime is under-represented, while violence, drugs and sex crimes are over-represented.
- finctional sex crimes are commited by psychopaths.
- fictional cops usually get the bad guy.
- however there is now a tendancy to show police as corrupt and brutal
- victimes becme more central, with law enforces portrayed as their avengers.
The media as a cause of crime
there are many ways in which the media possibly cause crime and devience;
- imitation- by providing devient role models, resutling in copycat behaviour
- arousal; through viewing violent or sexual imagery
- ny transmitting knowledge of criminal techniwues
- as a target for crime e.g advertising goods that people wish to have
- by portraying the police as incompetent
- by glamourising offending.
this then results in fears of possible effects of the media to their audiences, literally thousands of studies have been conducted. most studies have foudn that exposure to media volience has at most a small and limited negative effect on auidences.
Fear of Crime
- There is now risk due to the media over exaggrating the risks of certain groups of people. there is also concern that the media may be distorting the public's impression of crime and causing an unrealistic fear of crime.
- research evidence supports the view that there is a link between media use and fear of crime.
- the existence of such correlations doesnt prove that meida viewing casuses fear , for example it may those who are already afraid of going out at night.
- Richard Sparks notes, much 'media effects' research, whether on the media as a cuase of crime or as a cause of fear- ignores the meanings that viewers give to media violence.
The media, relative deprivation and crime
- Lab research has focused on whether media portrayls of crime and devient lifestyles lead viewers to commit crimes themselves.
- amd alternative approah is to consider how far media portrayls of 'normal' rather than criminal lifestyles might also encourgae people to commit crime.
- left realists argue that the madd meida help to increase the sense of relative deprivation- the feeling of being deprived relative to others.
- in society today, even the poorest of people have access to media, in which they present society with images of a materallistic 'good life' of lesiure, fun and consumer goods as the norm to which they should conform.
- Merton; pressure to conform to the norm can cause devient behaviour when the oppurunity to achieve by legitamate means is blocked.