Essay: Media representations of crime

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  • Subject area(s): Criminology essays
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  • Published on: November 15, 2017
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  • Media representations of crime
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Criminology is the study of all aspects of crime and the criminal justice system. Basically, the main goal of criminology is to reveal and solve the complex of any crime. Nowadays, media plays a big role in serving this kind of violence among children, most of time they watch any movie, television shows and video games have violence and such kind of crime. This paper concern about the problem frame, features and theories of moral panic, offenders, victims and law enforcement portrayed by media.

Especially, the newspapers and the television news programs determine that crime is primary source of news media. People watch television news or read newspapers because they have more concern about the crimes happening in their societies. Because of this, media or news channels focus on the various ways to represent their material and find different kinds of crime stories. As well as, crime news are also a way of entertainment, most of time people use to view crime news on television and on social sites they use to follow various news channels where they get updates. Sometimes, public use internet to browse crime stories and read crime novels.

Moreover, Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda (1994) set some theories and features to differentiate between legitimate social problems of people concern and moral panics stirred up by moral entrepreneurs and the media. According to Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda, moral panic is characterized by five features as follows:-

1. Concern: A “heightened level of concern” about any problem is often spread by involvement of media, action groups or legislative initiatives.

2. Hostility: An “increased level of hostility” toward the enemy or the target group is harmful or threatening to the values, beliefs and morals to the normal society. If anyone has peak level of hostility it is always harmful for the person as well as the society which increase the violence among the society.

3. Consensus: consensus is some sort of agreement that all are agree for that thing. For instance if a group is going to movie first they have to reach consensus or agreement for movie. As well as, society members should have some sort of ‘consensus’ among the society that any threat which is occurred by wrong intention is real and serious. And society should take steps toward it.

4. Volatility: Volatility is like any problem suddenly come one day and be a huge problem and even no one can find the solution. But, after some time it disappear without any reason and valid explanation that why it come and become a big problem and one day it vanish and no longer a problem from next day.

5. Disproportionality: the concern level disproportionate to the actual seriousness of the threat; the level of concern is not common, and there is no evidence or little evidence of a real threat.

Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda also proposed three theories to explain why moral panics derived:-

1. Grassroots Theory: – This theory suggests that the moral panic starts with the public concern about the problem which is real or imagined and also the politicians and media involvement in response to the public concern. In the grassroots model most of the supporters would acknowledge that involvement of the media public and politicians is important in order for moral panic to complete development.

2. Elite-engineered theory: – This theory suggests that to make the small and powerful groups which consciously set out to divert the common people attention away from the genuine reasons of the social problems which are occurring in the society. Because, the solutions of that problems negatively impact on the interest of elite class group. Also, Goode and Ben-Yehuda point to hall 1978 released book “policing the Crisis” as an instance of this theory, Where wealthy and elite class British society use the media and law enforcement to make fear around the public about non-existence increase in strikes.

3. Interest group theory: – this theory suggests that the interest groups such as religious organizations, politicians, professional groups, and media may act independently rather than communicating one another. However the moral panic by these interest groups are self-serving, and all are genuinely believe that they are best interests in the society and each and every person should follow their interest.

Goode and Ben-Yehuda concluded that these three theories are required if anybody want to understand the moral panic.

Moreover, media always represent youth offenders as “dangerous others” who are violent and they easily go toward crime and do not think about the results of their actions. This is mostly led by violence in the movies and the games which make their mind very aggressive and dangerous to others. Further, female offenders are seen as particularly upsetting and they are more horrible. Women offenders are harsher and they are basically constructed as offenders.

Crime media is established for reflecting the social values. As media influence how we think about the offenders that they are very harsh and aggressive also it influence us to think about the victims. As Dowler, Fleming, and muzzatti (2006). Write, “If it bleeds it leads” but it depends that who is bleeding this statement is not fully truthful.

The “ideal victim” concept was established by Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie (1986). According to Christie, an ideal victim is a victim or the category of individuals who give a complete legitimate status of being victim. There are some of them who deserves more as victim status then others. In media, the ideal victim intersect with religion, gender, age, and other social characteristics. Furthermore, the representation of victims are is affected by racism, ageism, islamophobia, ableism, homophobia and misogyny. In addition, the victims who are characterized as deviant they are constructed as less ideal. They also constructed as “less innocent” then the other victims.

Importantly, race and gender are two major components of media of victims. For instance, in a crime story always a minority offender will be a racist and on the same time the victims of crime which are racial minorities are ignored.

In conclusion, I would like to draw the curtain by saying that the crime media plays a vital role in today’s world which gives full fledge information about the crimes happening in society. However, the stories which are represented by media are not only to attract more and more viewers there is lot more then that. Basically it is the way in which we get the collective meaning of crimes, police, authority, government, victims, offenders and laws. Moreover, it is also a way to find out who is in our side, which person is act as man in middle and which person is on the other side. So, the students who are studying criminology need to approach the media representations so that they can have better understanding about crime and media involvement in crimes and also answers to their questions.

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