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'A nation stalked by FEAR' (The Sun, 17th July 2002). What can the study of newspaper coverage of official crime statistics tell us about the problem of crime?

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'A nation stalked by FEAR' (The Sun, 17th July 2002). What can the study of newspaper coverage of official crime statistics tell us about the problem of crime? The official statistics used to determine the crime rates and the problem of crime are based on the recording by the police of notifiable offences. The media then relate these statistics to the public. By studying newspaper coverage of official crime statistics would allow the public to determine for themselves the problem of crime, but is this a true picture of crime? I will in this essay explain the complexity of studying crime statistics through media coverage by using two newspaper articles one taken from The Sun, a tabloid newspaper and the other The Guardian which is a broadsheet, they are both daily newspapers. The media can generate fear; people read about crimes that happen and take it as it may happen to them. Different newspapers word and categorise crime differently according to who is reading it. Left realists believe that in inner city areas the media's coverage of crime reinforce what people already know. The majority of people that fear crime have never experienced crime, but read about it daily in newspapers and television. ...read more.


The Guardian's attitude towards Britain being a nation fearful of crime is overlooked. The BCS states that 43% of the readers of The Sun thought crime had shot up compared to only 26% of the readers of The Guardian. By deconstructing the figures in the two articles and comparing the two. The Sun seems to be taking the stance of Stanley Cohen's 'Moral Panics' in 1964. He researched the disturbances between Mods and Rockers on Easter Bank Holiday in Clacton. The national press spoke of 'a day of terror', whereby gangs of youths destroyed a whole town, but in reality there were no gangs, the disturbances happened on the sea front not the town centre as was assumed. The press admitted that they had over-reported on the crimes that were committed, but by this time the damage had already been done. Police stepped up surveillance, more arrests were made and this in turn added to more media hype and added more concern to the public. The media distorts real events as in Cohen's moral panics because of the media the youth at the time were labelled as deviant as such they adopted labels and were deviant to suit their labels. ...read more.


News stories reinforce people's stereo-typical perceptions of crime that enable society to respond to the problem of crime. The statistical rates of crime increased while the real crime rates dropped. Murder is the most reported crime, yet it is the least crime committed. Over-coverage will make the public believe there is more crime than what there actually is. Crime statistics need to paint a more accurate picture of the true extent of crime reporting accurately who suffers from crime and what can be done to prevent it. Other agencies could give more accurate information regarding crime and criminal activities than the police, such as health departments, coroner's offices, hospitals and the community itself. This would allow crime to be put into perspective with what is reported. The media not only causes fear of crime it also feeds the fascination that the public have about crime. Media and crime have become intertwined. Crimes such as murderer Ian Huntley who killed 2 young girls for example, the newspapers glorified in the stories that were reported, competing against each other to get the best headlines. The media are partial to institutional restraints as such the view is taken from the stance of the media's interpretation. WORD COUNT: 2077 WORDS Sharon Ebanks T274910X TMA01 1 ...read more.

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