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How does the media shape our perception of crime and the criminal justice system - Research Paper Example

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How does the media shape our perception of crime and the criminal justice system? Any resident in modern urban Australia is constantly exposed to a wide range of different media including newspapers, magazines, television, radio, cinema and increasingly also web based sources via the internet…
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How does the media shape our perception of crime and the criminal justice system
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Download file to see previous pages The media have a role in informing and even educating the public about such themes, but it must always be remembered that this is not the only, and often not the primary, function of mass media. Media exist in a business world where they must generate revenue, and they are driven by market forces as much as ethics and attention to veracity and an accurate representation of reality. Against this background it is important to ask the question whether, and in what way the mass media change people’s perception of crime and whether this increases their own fear of crime occurring in their own personal sphere. A number of empirical studies, mostly based in the United States of America, have tried to pin down exactly what the effects of media are on people’s perceptions of crime and the criminal justice system. ...
al news does have an effect on people, but that “when the news is closer to the everyday lives of the viewers, it will have more input to their fears,” (Chiricos, Padgett and Gertz: 2000, p. 779) The frequency of viewing local news was found to be significant for viewers’ fear of crime and the authors note that a preoccupation with violent crime in local news is doubly harmful for residents in high crime areas because it resonates with them much more than with residents in affluent and low crime areas, who see it as something distant which does not affect them. Another large study looked at differences in the way that local news media, and especially local television, depict urban and suburban crime, in a sample of 7,667 local news stories drawn from the whole of the United States. (Yanich: 2004, p. 541) This study is important because it provides statistical evidence of the proportion of news broadcasting time devoted to crime (around 28%), which makes it the predominant or second-most frequent story in all of the newscasts. When the crime reporting was analysed further, it transpired that court stories were prominent, 35-38% which is explained by the relative ease of obtaining information in the local area, the cost-saving ability to use material from previous reporting of the actual crime, and, significantly, “court stories offer court news as miniseries – the media trial – in which the media co-opt the criminal justice system as a source of high drama and entertainment. (Yanich: 2004, p. 544) Yanich also observed a phenomenon which he describes as “crime creep” whereby crimes occurring in suburban areas are more often reported than crimes occurring in urban areas, using a motif of advancing waves of crime spreading out from the core city to the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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