• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent to the news media reflect the "reality of crime"? Select and example and discuss in relation to deviancy amplification and moral panic.

Extracts from this document...


To what extent to the news media reflect the "reality of crime"? Select and example and discuss in relation to deviancy amplification and moral panic. A moral panic is as defined by Stan Cohen as "a threat to societal values and interests". According to Cohen, society is often subject to such "instances and periods of moral panic" (Cohen 1972); the cycle of moral panics begins as suggested with a deviant or criminal act, which is generally considered to be a threat to the fabric of society. The media identify and exaggerate the deviancy in simplified terms, occasionally even deliberately instigating events in the pursuit of headlines. The deviants are as a result stigmatised and acknowledged as outcasts from mainstream society - being misrepresented by the media. In turn those involved may gradually identify with this role, further increasing the likelihood of deviant behaviour. Following the media frenzy; public fears and indignation are aroused and agitated, there are calls for action to be taken and for "something to be done", whereby there is a tendency for those figures such as politicians, the police force, magistrates and religious leaders amongst others, to man the 'moral barricades' and pronounce judgment. This is followed by a response from public, which in turn further concentrates focus and concern by the public at large, this is known as deviancy amplification. The result of the panic can then; quickly die out, is forgotten by the media and therefore by the public, or there is ...read more.


The point that this case made was not that this was a first of its kind, for children in the past have killed other children, but was the media's reaction to such a crime and the ongoing public reaction to it. The murder was portrayed by the media as a horrific act, which symbolized the degeneration of modern British society, the media suggested the increase of public indifference, lowering family values and increasing isolation, generating massive public guilt and predicting a breakdown in the cohesive fabric of society itself, 'why did 'we' as a society allow this to happen?'; 'if society had been more vigilant this crime would never have happened'; 'what happened to the active citizen?' (The Guardian). All of which are key factors in a moral panic, especially the identification of public guilt, which will result in a public outcry and changes made to society to prevent such a thing happening again. The use of the language in the articles covering the crime the time, made "folk devils" out of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, saying "that the two were evil and fixated on killing" and James Bulger as "innocent, a lovely little boy. He was so beautiful", emotive language which provokes reactions from the general public. (Guardian, 25/9/1993) Public opinion demanded stricter authoritarian controls and even censorship as the deviancy situation was amplified. There was little public opposition to the government proposal to install more CCTV cameras to control crime, after all, surveillance cameras proved ...read more.


For example, in the same article it was reported that 'the unofficial Child Protection Unit formed by angry dads in Teignmouth, Devon, has 'savagely beaten' a convicted sex offender and threatens more attacks, claiming that only physical action can protect their children'. (Guardian 12/07/1997). For as Decca Aitkenhead makes clear is 'the new discovery is the scale of child abuse going on in the home, yet the new panic is about the stranger in the park'. It would appear that it is easier to heavily invest in the menace of the stranger, as abuse within the home and our families is too difficult to confront. (Guardian 9 January 1998). Using this, and the other examples, it is perhaps clear to see how a panic was generated and why. There is little doubt that a concern did exist, yet one must question whether the panic in question was more to do with society finding a way of dealing with an issue that was too difficult to confront, and whether this concern was capitalised on by the media to orchestrate a new panic, media amplification of a situation results in the public being manipulated by the media into following the same views as is expected of a nation. Yet it is perhaps futile to think that there are any ready-made solutions to the problem of moral panics, especially as we seem to be living in a time that is prepared to replace one moral panic for another, as quickly as the old one subsides. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Media section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Media essays

  1. 'The media simply reflect and reinforce existing social values, they cannot change society.'

    The cultural effects theory seeks to address this issue. This approach concerns itself with the long term effects of the media continually portraying certain groups and what they do in a particular way. The supposed effect is that the audience could translate these attitudes into reality, causing prejudice and pressure to be how these messages suggest you should be.

  2. Assess the claim that 'The News is selected according to the demands of the ...

    Theories on media choice and pluralism are proved by the existence of different media channels for different opinions- such as Fox News for conservative views and Air America Radio for liberal views. However, this perspective can be criticized. Classical Marxists and Neo-Marxists such as Hall and the GUMG would argue

  1. Censorship is necessary to protect the public

    In contrast, in some instances the argument concerns freedom of choice; some think that the public should be able to decide for themselves whether they are exposed to certain media, while others feel that the public should not have to run the risk of being exposed to offensive material.

  2. Moral Panic and media folk devils.

    and read tabloid newspapers which start most moral panics. * Secondary Data. Since the end of the war there have been five major moral panics, * Comic books, * Rock and roll * Dungeons and dragons, * Violent films and T.V.

  1. To what extent do media representations of refugees and asylum seekers limit their integration ...

    nurses or teachers are backed up by a quotation from a Tory MP saying, "Lower paid workers doing important jobs will be pretty cross to hear of families getting this kind of support just for turning up and claiming asylum"(Daily Mail, 2003).

  2. Do the Media have the power to shape public opinion?

    the less active sections of the population'[6] Initial studies of the 1940 presidential election campaign in the USA found that the media had negligible effects on the decision of the individual. Katz and Lazarsfeld studies women who had changed their vote opinion.

  1. How does the media represent female bodies?

    This is the number of pages with pictures of women where they were criticised, I included this as one category but in fact in some of the images they were being criticised for their weight (loss or gain), outfits, cellulite, and even sweat patches.

  2. Do we need Censorship in the Media?

    This game has been rated certificate 18 and the makers hit back by saying that the game is intended for adults who can appreciate its mature themes. Through the ages many things have happened in the censorship industry. Censorship is usually just cutting from a film during each decade the

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work