Sensationalisation of Crime in the Media

This should be a useful update for students studying both the Crime and Deviance and Media options as part of A-level sociology.

If we include fictional crime programmes, the Media tends to sensationalise crime: Many programmes almost revel in crime and especially deviance, sometimes even glorifying it. Consider the way that deviant celebrities are treated or consider the hyperreal, idealistic representations of war in games such as Call of Duty.

Fictional crime dramas tend to normalise police violence and erase the issue of Racism according to this Guardian article.

The researchers suggest that the main cop or detective characters are depicted as inherently ‘good’ even though are frequently doing ‘bad things’ – like ‘roughing up’ suspected criminals, or much worse. In fact, the vast majority of the central characters do things which are in breach of police-conduct standards and often illegal, and yet they are not portrayed as bad for doing so.  Police illegality is seen as normal and acceptable.

The researchers further suggest that crime dramas ignore the central issues of Racism in the police force, in reality they say, everything is about Race when it comes to policing (think of the skewed stop and search rates) and yet this issue is barely even mentioned in fictional crime dramas.

This blog post by a final year university student at the University of Bournemouth contrasts how the right wing press and left wing press cover the recent increase in Knife Crime in the UK – the Telegraph and Daily Mail take a ‘moral panic’ approach using the phrase ‘Wild West’ Britain to describe the increase, while the left wing press are more objective and make more of an effort to understand the causes.

The author also looks at the issue of Drill Musicians getting negative press for ‘inciting violence’, another example of a moral panic, maybe?

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