Terrorism? Mafias? Gangs? These are all examples of key words that people use to describe organized crime because these are the ways that it is portrayed in the media. When talking about media, it includes things like news television, newspapers, radio stations, magazines, films/movies, and songs. Robert Lombardo (2010) argues that the mass media is the number one source for the public to gain information on crime, criminals and the criminal justice system (p. 264). Organized crime is a phenomenon that is fairly recent and has been given significant attention by the media and media consumers/audience. Media takes aspects of organized crime and distorts definitions and stereotypes that are reinforced to the public. In this essay, what will be examined is what organized crime actually is, how the media represents it, and how media representations affect society including the public, police officers and political individuals. .
Before exposing the ways that the media represents organized crime, it is important to first understand what organized crime actually is, apart from what the media portrays it as. Michael Lyman and Gary Potter (2015) explain that there is no set definition of organized crime as it varies from police definitions, international definitions, and definitions in scholarly literature (p. 6-7). However, a definition of what an organized criminal group has been stated as: "A structured group of three or more persons existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offenses in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit" (Lyman and Potter, 2015, p. 10).
This definition of organized criminal groups is significant because it is important to note that it does not limit organized crime to any specific type or group of people whether it is in terms of race, class, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.