Is the nature of crime in our society accurately presented by the media? Discuss.

Essay by kroshka11University, Bachelor'sA+, October 2012

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Is the nature of crime in our society accurately presented by the media? Discuss.


A considerable amount of literature consistently argues that the way crime is portrayed in the media significantly differs from what official records and research tell us, that is to say, that the media is said to misrepresent the crime problem. Five main arguments are presented demonstrating that the media distorts the crime problem. First, the media tend to report on crimes that are considered `newsworthy.' Second, it is argued that the media's role is that of an agenda-setter. Third, media reporting on crime is supportive of law enforcement agencies but is negative towards courts. Fourth, the media reports on crime that escalates public anxiety to such an extent that it can lead to moral panic about particular crimes. Fifth, stereotypes of both victims and offenders dominate media representations of crime. It is believed that the media is the public's primary source of knowledge about crime and it has exploited this by inaccurately presenting the nature of crime to our society.


The first argument supporting that the media distorts the crime problem is that the reporting of crime is selective and the types of crimes reported in the media are those deemed `newsworthy.' Media compete in a marketplace to attract as large an audience as possible as they are profit orientated organisations. Consequently, crimes are selectively reported and are generally reported in ways that conform to news values of the immediate, the novel, the dramatic, and so on, which reinforce already established images of threat from crime. The assumption that the volume of crime is high and rising is one of the main arguments advanced by society. In Australia, studies have shown that a substantial proportion of the population incorrectly believe that crime rates are...