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How Not to Think About Crime in the Media


The media is filled with stories on crime, punishment and a lot of social evil in the society. These stories usually hit the headlines and leave the whole world mouths agape. The same stories have led to decline in foreign investments, tourism and other important economic sectors. Popularity of crime has led to development of many crime scenes and in other cases, film stories entirely revolving around organized crime. On many occasions, public debates on whether incites more violence to the viewers have ensued. Debates on whether law and order is actually being enforced have also crossed the picture. Has the society been really informed about crime and punishment or fear has been instilled in them?

Critical examination of the article

Well, research in the media indicates unique consistency on saturation of crime news in the media. And for a long time now, crime entertainment has ruled the minds of many viewers. According to Perlmutter (2000), Turner (1993) and Garofalo (1981), the manner in which crime and punishment is portrayed in the media is different from the facts on the ground as reported from official statistics and other sources. Research further indicates that the media is responsible for constructing new crime problems through moral panics, wilding and freeway violence.

According to Richard Ericson (1991), newspapers and radios in Canada covered extensive and violent street crime particularly; under sexual offences. More than two thirds of the news coverage involved deviance and control in a minute form. Different sources indicate that crime news highly tends to rely on police as the source. Even though the relationship between police and the media is quite complex, diverse and somewhat differentiated, the media is presented as depending on them for information because of routine availability, control and availability of information. However, the relationship between the police and journalists is highly contentious—indicating a further complex negotiated deal for news between the media and other sources: police, official and unofficial.

But the source and nature of the news isn’t a problem. The problem lies in focusing on the hypothesized negative influences of crime stories. Studies indicate that the most publicized concern is that visual media invigorates violence that results in aggressive behaviour dubbed as television violence.

Arguments for the proposition

It is very true that the media is actually a central institution in controlling social issues and work and particularly in conjunction with the current legal institution and other institutions. According to James Weaver, exposure of violent films to both men and women increases the chances of reacting in a hostile manner almost all the time. And this behaviour is not short lives; rather it persists in the life and personality traits of the viewer for a very long time. In a separate research, men that were largely perceived as quite egocentric and deviant tended to use violence as the principle means of resolving conflicts in the society. Such men and women have been found to support death penalties because they naturally find violence as a perfect means of resolving conflicts. However, those who don’t like watching violence or who don’t have much time for television programs preferred nonviolence as a way of resolving conflicts.

According to John Flynn (2012), in a research conducted by Australia’s Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, many kids that spend several hours a week playing violent video games were found to choose aggression in solving conflicts in their day-to-day lives. Even though research doesn’t indicate that there is actual violence committed by those people who love violent media items, there is a great likelihood of people who watch violence in the media turning to aggressive means as a way of problem resolution.

Strengths of the approach used

The writer presents the problem in a very systematic approach. The first section exposes the matter reported, how it is reported and the imbalance between crime and other pieces of news as presented in the media. Even though the writer doesn’t necessarily dismiss the results of analyses presented by other researchers, they warn them to tread carefully. First, social scientists are warned against making premature assumptions concerning production and the receptions of media products based on the products as they are presented. Secondly sociologists have been advised to acknowledge a great deal of complexity and diversity with media organization, formats, production, content, audiences and the context in which these media texts may be received and the influences that they may have.

The writer yet points out another assumption that the general public and researchers from particular disciplines present: homogeneity. Contrary to their assumptions, the audience is generally heterogeneous with both men and women having different perceptions on crime and the media. This is largely based on their personal experiences, histories and variables in matters of class and ethnicity. Therefore, they have failed to take care of plurality of reactions with different constituencies, modes of discourse and the effectiveness thereof, Howitt (1998). And of course this is in line with the current social differentiation and audience segmentation that exists.

Violence in television and films has been found to cause desensitization and a massive reduction of behavioral response to any stimulus. This desensitization, medically proven, affects the entire process of moral evaluation in an individual. At best, video games are the most influential. The same case applies to sexual behaviour: in a parallel research, adolescents who are exposed to sex scenes in a movie tend to have sexual exploits at a much younger age than usual, Howitt (1998). In general, violence in the media largely influences the nature of thinking and resolutions created by the viewers. The writer has rightly exposed how moral decay has been observed in the society as a result of watching crime. This is a strong cause and effect approach.

Weaknesses of the approach used

It is unclear how the article writer selected the participants in the research article collection. Therefore, there is no organization in the collection of data. And even though the sources of data have been stated here, we don’t really know how the sources were arrived at. As a result, one can’t quite establish whether the article writer’s compilation is biased in a given wing or to score a given goal for their own benefit. One thing is clear however: the writer points a red light to the media as the basic promote of crime knowledge and that it’s also responsible for the promotion of crime films. However, the media has not been given the chance to defend itself as to whether they should stop reporting crime so that citizens don’t get to know what’s happening.

While the right realists in research have been linked to the creation of a moral panic, the left realists are always linked to condemn the use thereof that modifies the behaviour of the viewers. The writer has not disambiguated the two from his research; therefore we can’t rightly create a distinction in the article from what creates the moral panic and what modifies their behaviour. The right realists, in their research, present arguments about the effect of violence on viewers while left realists, in their research studies, indicate how violence in the media causes moral decay and degradation of mannerisms on the viewers. The writer has not substantiated these effects so that we get their strong point of argument. Nonetheless, both aspects are presented.

Inasmuch as the media plays a significant role in airing violence scenes and films; they are doing it in order to survive in the market. In a world with a lot of liberty where anybody does anything they love, media houses air what their viewers love most. And crime happens to be one of them in the name of “action” films particularly by men. Even though the writer presents a great analysis of crime and punishment as well as the interplay between them, whether modern or age old and the pronouncements given by key authorities, a critique on how the violence in media educates the viewers has not been given.

Aggression, as indicated from multiple research reports, is a likely result of overdependence on violence in the media as a form of entertainment Jewkes (2004). However, anyone would be seriously mistaken to think that this aggression is highly severe or immediate. It can take a variety of forms and the writer has not included this in the study. Therefore, the study remains a general form of knowledge without learning outcomes that should positively influence and dramatically improve the life of the reader.


To a greater extent, the thinking patterns and behaviour of many viewers is somewhat influenced by crime and violence observed in the media. But even though this statement is not conclusive in itself, the media influences the viewer in their process of performing their duties. However, in a society where we can’t do away with the media, the viewer should change the way they think about crime as presented in the media in order to stay safe.


Dostoyevsky, F 2010, Crime and Punishment, Cricket House, Wisconsin

Flynn, J 2012, The Effects of Media Violence, Innovative Media Inc., Nov, Rome

Howitt, D 1998, Crime ,the Media and the Law, John Wiley publishers, New York

Jewkes, Y 2004, Media and Crime, Sage Publications, London

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