Media and crime
• The media love
crime and use
it extensively in
their war with
CRIME AND THE MEDIA
QUESTION: Are most rapes committed by:
a) Strangers? (stranger danger)
b) Someone the victim knows?
Can we evaluate this answer?
It is probable that a significant proportion of
rapes are never reported and/or recorded so
difficult to say.
Soothill & Walby (1991)
• Studied the coverage of rape in newspapers
• Found that newspaper reporting of rape cases
increased from under a quarter of all cases in 1951 to
over one third in 1985
• Found that the coverage of rape cases focuses on
identifying a ‘sex fiend’ or ‘beast’ often with the use of
labels like ‘the balaclava rapist’
• The resulting distorted picture of rape is one of serial
attacks carried out by psychopathic strangers. The
reality is in most cases the victim knows the rapist
(research shows that 45% of rapes were by partners)
• In other words the media DISTORT the picture of crime
we get from crime statistics (official, victim surveys,
CRIME AND THE MEDIA
• ACTIVITY 1 – THE DISTORTED NATURE OF
• Pick out some more appropriate examples of
how the media distort crime p119 of books
and note them on your sheets around the
Gatekeepers include news editors, owners of newspapers and journalists and reporters. They
decide just which news stories are going to feature in the news. Crime stories are very
attractive to gatekeepers, they are very good for selling papers and enabling publications to
hold or even increase their share of the market.
• The distorted picture of crime painted by the
news media reflects the fact that the news is a
• News does not simply exist out there waiting to
be gathered in and written up by the journalist. It
is a social construct – the outcome of a social
process in which only stories that make people
buy newspapers will be printed – all the time
stories are being considered - then some are
selected, some are rejected.
• As Cohen & Young (1973) argued news is not
discovered but MANUFACTURED
NEWSWORTHY and NEWS VALUES
How are crime stories selected?
Through NEWS VALUES – a set of criteria which editors and
journalists decide if a story is NEWSWORTHY
Key news values influencing selection of crime stories:
2. Dramatisation: action + excitement
3. Personalisation: human interest stories about individuals
4. Higher-status persons + celebrities
5. Simplification: eliminating shades of grey/ clear good and
evil, ‘innocent victim’/wicked perpetrator’ extreme
6. Novelty or unexpectedness: a new angle
7. Risk: victim-centred stories about vulnerability + fear
8. Violence: especially visible and spectacular acts
a) Oscar Pistorious
REEVA STEENKAMP'Sleeping at Oscar's tonight': Final text reveals tired model
decided to stay over at last minute
25 Feb 2013 11:19
The 29-year-old model had planned to see Oscar Pistorius and then drive back to her
best friend's house but it got too late for her to travel home
Tragic Reeva Steenkamp wasn't due to stay with boyfriend Oscar Pistorius the night
she died but changed her mind because it became too late for her to drive home
safely, it has been revealed.
The 29-year-old model had planned to see Oscar and then drive back to her best
But it got late and Reeva was tired and, at the last moment, she decided to stay over a decision that cost Reeva her life.
She sent a text to the father of her best friend, Kim, to let him know that she would
not be returning that night.
Cecil Myers told South Africa's City Press newspaper: "I've got this thing with all three
children (Reeva, and his daughters, Kim and Gina), if they don't come home at
night, they must text me."
"Then Reeva sent the (SMS) message: 'Hi guys, I'm too tired. It's too far to drive. I'm
sleeping at Oscar's tonight. See you tomorrow'.
Just hours later, Reeva was shot dead.
Shot four times, she died in Pistorius' arms on Valentine's Day.
b) Raoul Moat
The 2010 Northumbria Police manhunt was a major police
operation in North East England in which armed police
officers were under the command of the Northumbria Police
force to attempt to apprehend Raoul Moat, a 37-year-old man
from Newcastle upon Tyne who had been recently released
from Durham Prison. Moat, armed with a sawn-off shotgun,
shot three people two days after his release: his ex-girlfriend
Samantha Stobbart, her new partner Chris Brown, and police
officer David Rathband. Brown was killed, while Rathband
remained in hospital for nearly three weeks and was
permanently blinded. Seriously injured Stobbart also remains
hospitalised. After six days on the run, Moat was recognised
by police, leading to a standoff. After nearly six hours of
negotiation, Moat shot himself in the early hours of the
• April Jones, 5, went missing from her home
town of Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, on October
1, 2012. Police and hundreds of residents
launched a major search over fears she had
been snatched off the street. April was last seen
getting into a light coloured van which drove off
in Machynlleth at 7.30pm. She had been playing
on her bike with friends near her home on the
• Mark Duggan Inquest: Marksman Gives Evidence
• The police officer who shot Mark Duggan describes the "freeze frame"
moment when he believed the suspect was about to fire.
• The police marksman who killed Mark Duggan has said he had "an
honestly held belief" that the suspect was about to shoot him.
• Known only as V53, the experienced firearms officer was giving evidence
at the inquest in London.
• He described how he was part of a Metropolitan Police operation tracking
Mark Duggan through London on August 4, 2011.
• Intelligence reports had said that Mr Duggan had gone in a minicab to pick
up a gun from an associate.
• The inquest saw dummy images of where the shots entered Mr Duggan's
bodyAfter the "hard stop" of the minicab Mr Duggan moved out of the
• V53 told the inquest: "He has an object in his right hand, he has a handgun
in his right hand."
• Shouts of "liar" were heard from the public gallery.
c)March 7th 2011
• Superheroes' teenage nicks
• BRITAIN'S youngest real-life superheroes have joined forces to fight
• Masked crusaders Night Warrior and The Man In Black, both 18, teamed
up like Batman and Robin.
• They have already hunted down a suspected drugs gang and tipped off
cops about their den in North London.
• Hat-wearing The Man In Black said he has been in a few scrapes tackling
crime - and was cut on the hand by one thug. But he only uses an
UMBRELLA for protection.
• He revealed his identity as unemployed Joseph Falica, of Harrow, who
started patrols two years ago. He said: "I'm willing to risk my life."
• Spandex-clad Night Warrior, who has joined him on patrol in London, is
from Salford, Gtr Manchester. He said: "I'm saving up for a bullet-proof
• Last week The Sun told of at least 16 other real-life superheroes on
Kidnap 'Was PrePlanned'
• Men seen lurking around the McCanns' apartment and potentially
bogus charity collectors prompt new theories on the
• he case suggests it was a premeditated abduction.
• New theories have shifted detectives' focus to a second, later
sighting of a man carrying a child at around the same time the
three-year-old's parents discovered she was missing.
• Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he hoped to gather
more information about men seen near the McCanns' apartment
on several occasions in the week she disappeared.
• When asked whether he believed the family was being watched, he
said: "The physical evidence demonstrates to us that there are
people, unexplained people, possibly doing just that.
Widow sobs as
killing soldier hero
• Rebecca Rigby, 30, dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief as Michael
-Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale denied the charges against them.
• She was comforted by -relatives as she watched the pair appear via video
link from high -security Belmarsh Prison in south-east London.
• Adebolajo, 28, and Adebowale, 22, also denied the attempted murder of
an unnamed police officer on the same day, May 22, that the 25-year-old
private was killed.
• And they entered not guilty pleas to a separate charge of conspiring to
murder a police officer. The pair told Mr Justice Sweeney that they wanted
to be known by their adopted names, Mujahid Abu Hamza and Ismail Ibn
White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite feared to be
planning more deadly attacks
Files on her seized computer show her relentless quest for mass carnage - and
that she has the funds to carry it out
Police hunting for the White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite fear she is planning
more deadly attacks after masterminding the Nairobi shopping centre massacre.
It has been revealed that documents found on her laptop show the British terror
suspect had been plotting to target a mall in Kenya’s capital for at least two years.
Officers say files on the computer clearly show her relentless quest to commit
mass carnage and that she has the funds and knowledge to carry it out.
She has fuelled her obsession by studying writings that advocate the cold-blooded
killing of women and children.
A source said: “The international security community is working round the clock to
identify her whereabouts and capture her without delay.
“The lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent people are at risk if she is
able to launch an attack. She needs to be stopped in her tracks before it is too late.
"She is a danger to the world.”
d) Herbie Hyde
Boxing champ Herbie Hide peddles cocaine and
offers to throw title fight
Shame ... Herbie Hide
By MAZHER MAHMOOD
Published: 16 hrs ago
FORMER boxing world champ Herbie Hide is today exposed as a drug Mr Fixit
ready to throw a title fight for £1million.
The 41-year-old British heavyweight arranged for cocaine to be delivered to
undercover Sun reporters by a dealer who repeatedly boasted about his close links
to the fighter.
And Hide bragged about how he would fix a showpiece bout, saying: “Whoever,
which round you want, whatever you want as long as you put the money. “I can
guarantee one thing, you can get whoever is the favourite, you can get them to
step down for a million pounds.
e) Jimmy Saville
Jimmy Savile scandal: Report reveals decades of abuse
• Adults and children, including a boy of eight, were abused by
Jimmy Savile, a report detailing allegations over 50 years has
• Police and the NSPCC outlined offences by the late presenter at
venues including 13 hospitals and a hospice.
• Some 214 crimes were recorded across 28 police force areas,
including 34 of rape or penetration, the report said.
• The CPS apologised for missing the opportunity to prosecute Savile
in 2009, while he was still alive.
• The Metropolitan Police said the victims' accounts painted a
"compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex
offender", and Cdr Peter Spindler, who is leading the investigation,
said Savile had "groomed the nation".
• The NSPCC said Savile had been one of the most prolific sex
offenders in its 129-year history.
FICTIONAL REPRESENTATIONS OF
• ACTIVITY 3 – how many programmes, books,
novels, plays can we think of which are about
• As well as from the news media we get a lot of
our images of crime from these
CRIME OR DEVIANCE RELATED TO THIS
FICTIONAL REPRESENTATIONS OF
• Mandel (1984): from 1945-1984 estimates 10
billion crime thrillers sold worldwide
• Around 25% of prime time TV and 20% of
films are crime shows or movies
• Fictional representations of crime, criminals
and victims follow what Surette (1998) calls
the ‘law of opposites’ – the opposite of the
FICTIONAL REPRESENTATIONS OF CRIME
“FACT”- from official statistics FICTION – books, films.....
1 Property crime
Violence, drugs and sex
Quiz on what we have covered
1 Do the media over or under represent crime and deviance?
2 In 1993 Williams & Dickinson found British newspapers
devote that percentage of their news space to crime?
3 Write down two ways in which the media might distort our
perception of crime
4 What do we call those editors, journalists and newspaper
owners who CONSTRUCT the news?
5 Who said that news is not discovered but MANUFACTURED?
6 Write down 5 news values
7 The Oscar Pistorious case – which news values are present
8 Real life murders are mainly the result ofbrawls and
domestic disputes; however in fiction they are mainl the
result of what?
Two different views of media
Hypodermic Syringe Theory
b) John Galliano
• Paris Prosecutors Office have decided to
put Galliano on trial over his alleged racial
insults. The proceedings could take place in
the second quarter of the year. If found
guilty the designer could face six months
imprisonment or a €22,500 (£19,085) fine.
• FASHION guru John Galliano was filmed
having a vile racist rant during which he
declared: "I love Hitler."
• The British designer - an alleged Jew hater then tells a horrified woman: "People like
you would be dead. Your mothers, your
forefathers, would all be f****** gassed."