A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF HOW MEDIA COVERAGE OF CRIME EFFECTS CITIZNES VIEWS ON, AND FEARS OF CRIME.
Car-jackings and home invasions show that crime is out of control; that the crime rate is up; and violent crime is on the increase; these are all contemporary ways of expressing what is becoming an everyday fear about crime. However, is crime really on the increase or is it just media hype?.
The media is the major source of creating fear and having a profound effect on developing citizens view about crime. The underlying theme of this paper is that the fear of crime is constructed socially through the media. Therefore, the goal is to exemplify how the media magnifies fear and how it presents citizens a fear of crime. .
Police stories are one of the main staples of the media because they make a good reading. A good story is where you have conflict, a hero, a villain, and you have somebody overcoming obstacles. The police realize that they have an enormous responsibility, authority and accountability. Thus, one of the main areas where they (the police) are going to get accountability is through the media (Best, 1999: 145). The media can give a perspective on crime, sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong. Nevertheless, the media can present a view that can heighten or lessen fear. Alternatively, these reports can also be unreliable because the police tend to give the media selected stories mainly consisting of street crimes (Best, 1999: 147). The crime reports provided by the police demonstrate numerous examples of crimes between strangers, crimes in public places, and crimes specific to age. Since the police rarely mention whether or not the victims and the offender knew each other, the impression created by the public is that crimes occur frequently between strangers than they do in reality (Best, 1999: 145). In reporting to the media, it allows the police to reaffirm their owndersip and knowledge of fighting crime (Sacco & Kennedy, 1998).