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Media Representation of Crime


Submitted By gcalcioli
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Media Representation of crime
William and Dickinson (1971) found British newspapers devote 30% of their space to crime
Media gives a distorted image of crime, criminals and policing compared to official statistics. The media:
Over representation of violent and sexual crime
Ditton and Duffy (1983) found 46% of media reports were about sexual or violent crime, compared to the actual 3% of crime records for this kind of crime. Marsh found violent crimes were 36 times more likely to be recorded in newspapers than property crime- America
Media portray criminals and victims as older and more middle class
Felson (1998) calls this the ‘age fallacy’
Media exaggerate police success
Partly due to media covering violent crime a lot, which has a higher clean up rate than property crime
Media exaggerate risk of vctimisation
Especially to women, white people and higher status people
Crime is reported as a series of separate events
Without examining underlying causes or structure
The media overplay extraordinary crime
Felson- ‘dramatic fallacy’ and ‘ingenuity fallacy’; media portray crime as hard to commit and you need intelligence to commit crime
There is evidence to show that media coverage of crime in the media is changing. Schlesinger and Tumber (1994) found that in the 1960s the focus had been on murders and petty crime, but by 1990 murder and petty crime were of less crime to the media. Change had occurred due to the abolition of the death penalty, and rising crime rates had meant crime had to be special to attract media coverage. By the 1990’s reporting had widened to include: drugs, child abuse, terrorism football hooliganism and mugging.
There is evidence that there has been an increase in sex crime coverage. Soothill and (Sylvia) Walby (1991) found newspaper reporting of all cases rose from ¼ in 1951 to 1/3 in 1985.
Papers often offer a distorted image of

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