University of Sussex
Media, crime and deviant behaviour.
Topic: To what extent do media representations of crime contribute to deviant behaviour?
Submission date: 18/12/2017
Word count overall: 1,642
Word count without bibliography and table of contents: 1,484
Table of Contents
A. How does the media portray crime? 3
B. Influence of media effects as cause of crime 5
C. The other side of the equation. 7
A. How does the media portray crime?
Crime and deviant behaviour are major social problems which are posed by various factors and conditions. Specifically, one of them is the mass media; libraries are full of crime books, newspapers devote a considerable proportion of news to crime (45.3% in a quality newspaper), radios (71.5% in a quality radio station), while also movies are very often based on crime fiction and non-fiction content. Given that, media and its influence on deviance act, is a crucial issue, I would like to convey my views so as to uncover the reasons behind this problem and clarify the repercussions of such issue (Reiner, 2007, p. 6).
Journalist choose the media coverage of crime and deviance, according to the newsworthiness of an event. What makes an event newsworthy, depends on its proximity, timing, significance, prominence, and human interest. (Rogers, 2017) While, according to Reiner “deviance is the defining characteristic of what journalists regard as newsworthy’. (Reiner, 2007, p. 6) In consequence, individuals are influenced by what media personnel prefer to include in the newspapers, television programmes, or websites.
These “news values” are held by editors and journalists and the stories they choose to report are most likely those with dramatic aspects. Reasonably, a simple burglary may shake the local newspapers, but a terror attack in a busy road might become a national story. For instance, the ‘Barcelona Terror Van Attack’ meant that numerous citizens in Spain felt unsafe and insecure. Thus, what makes a violent story newsworthy depends on how much
the media is stimulated, in order to present an emotional and dramatic influence towards the audiences.
In consequence, these emotional and dramatic influences create the connection between media reports and fear of crime. According to Gerbner and the Cultivation Theory, users who watch TV more than the average have greater indications of fear, as the frequent media illustrations create the illusion that the crime occurs more often than in reality does. Thus, this distorted picture of crime painted by the news, misleads the audience towards the wrong impression of the actual events and the reality. (Rosenberg, 2014) This regular bombarding of particular crime images, could have as a result a type of moral panic.[footnoteRef:1] [1: The overreaction of society to a discerned problem, often perpetuated by the media.]
One characteristic example of moral panics is illustrated by Stan Cohen, in his work which is named ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’. In 1964, two...