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Critical Analysis Crime and Media

In: Social Issues

Submitted By jazzman79
Words 1719
Pages 7
Assessment Item 2: Critical Analysis

Romer D, Jamieson K & Aday S 2003, Television News and the Cultivation of Fear of Crime, Journal of Communication Vol 53 no 1, pp 88-104.
The theme of this intriguing and thoroughly researched report examines the influence of media consumption on fear of crime, punitive attitudes and perceived police effectiveness. It widely observes the effect that wide reporting and viewing of violent crime has on public knowledge and questions whether the polling data is a reflection of violent crime in America or the television media accounts of it.
Context refers to the set of surrounding circumstances for any text, piece of research, publication, event etc. Almost every piece of research will have multiple contexts (Study Guide Glossary COM15, 2013, p 94). This journal article portrays the growing insecurities and encroachment that mass media has on our everyday lives, especially its account of violent crime, and how such mediums can impact on the viewer’s account of such events. This journal article has been used and published in a variety of professional and scholarly journals dealing in a range of fields including media and communication, legal and justice studies and behavioural psychology.
The paper is in the format of a formal research paper. It is a format that is more objective and non-personal; it’s the methodical process that involves the collection and analysis of information. The paper endeavours to coax the reader into picking a side of an argument introduced to the reader in the introduction by presenting the results of research in a systematic manner. The paper starts with an introduction that presents an argument and a background on the central theme backed-up by research. According to a 1994 Gallup Poll, concern about crime reached its highest peak in that year (Romer 2003, Television News and the Cultivation of Fear of Crime, p. 88). The paper is split into sub-headed sections that examine different arguments that support the main discussion, ‘Cultivation Theory’, ‘Diffusion of Fear Through Social Networks’, ‘The Social Comparison Hypothesis’, ‘Tests of Television News Influence’, each section is back-up by collated data that supports the central theme. The paper consists of a method section that presents primary research and headed by three case studies. The method section also contains a bar graph that displays the data of reported fear of walking in neighbourhoods within media regions and showing the differences between regions with low and high crime coverage and reported violent crime acts. A general discussion section that explores the results of the studies and how they impact the argument presented in the introduction, evidence collated in each study and how these findings support the argument. The research paper also includes a section that provides alternative evidence that either supports or disapproves of the argument sub-headed, ‘Other explanations of the Public’s Fear of Crime’. The paper ends with a few paragraphs summarising the results of the research and how it is interpreted in the context to the argument posed in the introduction. Crime coverage may not only condition viewer's fears of victimisation but may also affect perceptions of places where crime is likely to occur and the persons stereotyped as typical perpetrators (Romer 2003, Television News and the Cultivation of Fear of Crime, p. 102). A reference list concludes the paper in accordance with the Harvard method of referencing.
The paper is written in a formulaic, structured style that resembles the style used in other papers of the same theme in similar fields. The writing is educated and cultured and assumes a thorough understanding of the core themes and arguments and a somewhat deep understanding of the field. Although not laden with thematic jargon, the authors do not attempt to involve the reader and ask them to form an opinion but rather push them to accepting their opinion. The style is very evidentiary and scientific, using polls and data that are clearly aimed at an audience of likeminded individuals or students studying the field. The style is emblematic of other research papers in this field which have a tendency to explore only the author’s concepts and ideas and not provide any counter ideas which opens the argument to debate. The style although factual and interesting tends to be unbalanced and biased.
Romer, Jamieson and Aday reconnoitre the idea that television media is responsible for spreading a systematic fear of crime due largely to their accounting and portrayal of violent crime and the reporting of violent crime by the mass population. They argue that despite declining trends in crime, that heavy exposure to violent dramatic programming on prime-time television is in part a by-product of the Cultivation Theory, which is the theory that assumes that prime-time television depicts a society much more violent than the one we actually inhabit. To test their theories the authors analysed the results of a number of surveys and polls, both done nationally and in their core concentrated area. Initially, they examine the Cultivation Theory and how television news can shape the viewer’s perceptions in small but yet consequential ways and that over exposure to television news and their reporting of violent crime can leave a lasting negative impression on the viewer’s personal security and the likelihood of criminal victimisation. They follow by exploring the effects that social media has on the cultivation of fear of crime, and that by using social networking units, people are spreading the fear of crime themselves by reporting in a public domain crimes that have happened to them or others, and even, crime they have seen portrayed in the mass media. Romer, Jamieson and Aday continue examining differing hypothesis that compete with the fear of crime concept assuming that a fear of crime does exist within the population and that it is as widespread as they claim. To support their argument further, Romer, Jamieson and Aday provide three case studies and the results as well as graphs to show the polling data and evidence that reinforces their argument. Although to provide clarity to their argument, the authors provide a section detailing variables and other explanations to the central opinion, in no way does it contain the evidentiary support that the theories that support their argument contain, which can only be interpreted and read one way and leads to an acceptance of their argument, rather than an open discussion.
In order to establish Cultivation Theory as the reason for the public’s dogged belief that violent crime is a wide spread national problem and the increased rate of the fear of crime, Romer, Jamieson and Aday offer the results of a recent national survey, the 1994 Gallup Poll, a five year span of the General Social Survey and a local survey of 2300 residents of Philadelphia. The core element of their argument is that by viewing prime-time television news increases the fear of and concern about crime. To support this claim they cite fellow authors and research (p.89) and their own case studies (p. 92-99).
To evaluate this paper we first have to accept the notion that fear of crime exists and that it is as widespread as the authors suggest. Romer, Jamieson and Aday go to great lengths to convince the reader that television news is responsible for the increase of fear that the public feel toward violent crime, the chances of them being a victim of crime and in large their reporting of it. Although laden with evidentiary and intellectual verbosity and almost ignorant belief in their own argument, the paper does not go far enough in proving that cultivation theory is a wide-spread national problem. Of course, the authors are allowed their opinions and the medium to support their arguments and test their theories but at no point does the paper provide a chance for a detailed open discussion on the themes with all the relevant data to either accept or deny the argument. It’s as if we are reading something that has already been proven true and that the authors are not offering the opportunity to accept their arguments but rather critically assessing an already proven assumption. This paper would benefit from more research on the argument and another interpretation might be that cultivation theory is responsible for the fear of crime only because Romer, Jamieson and Aday believe it to be. The author’s inability to provide any competing evidence with the same astuteness as they provided evidence to support their argument and the weakness in developing their central argument makes this paper one paced and one sided. The approach to the material and research seems to have come from the side of the already convinced and not from side where the results should lead your decision. It is as if the paper was written for individuals who already accept the argument and the structure, style and evidence supports this analysis. The case studies provide no variables and the methodology is fragile and filled with assumptions based on the results, not facts, although the author’s language would have you believe that the results garnered from the studies is yet further, factual evidence that supports their argument.
A persistent effort to examine any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the evidence that supports it and the further conclusions to which it trends (Glasser 1941, An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking). The key to proving any argument is disproving or at least questioning the logic of the competing arguments. The paper does succeed in proving an increase in fear of crime, fear of victimisation and an increase in the reporting of violent crime when the crime rates are decreasing but does it prove that this is a result of the Cultivation Theory and thus prime time television news and their reporting of dramatic, violent events, no.

Reference List
Romer D, Jamieson K & Aday S 2003, Television News and the Cultivation of Fear of Crime, Journal of Communication Vol 53 no 1, pp 88-104.
Glossary, Study Guide and Workbook COM15 2013, School of Humanities, Arts, Education and Law, Griffith University.
Glasser, Edward 1941, An Experiment in the Development of Critical Thinking, New York, Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University.
Word Count 1502

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