Can the Media Be the Cause of Crime
Our lives are surrounded by media. We are constantly watching the news, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and scrolling through social media apps such as Instagram. Can this constant exposure to media be the reason for crime in the 21st century? Why have we become so murder-obsessed?
Media Representations of Crime
‘Media are key producers and purveyors of ‘knowledge’ about crime, disorder and control.’ — Chris Greer (2013)
Arguably, crime is a social construct created mainly through the media. It creates the public’s perception of crime. Media also could be considered a catalyst for further deviant behaviour.
Violent and sexual crimes are more likely to appear on our screens than for example corporate crime, meaning less exciting crimes are under-represented, making our perception of crime in our society distorted and inaccurate.
Criminologist Marcus Felson (2003) notes how extraordinary crimes are overplayed, calling it the ‘dramatic fallacy’. Crimes like extreme murders, kidnappings, and murders committed by serial killers.
This exposure to crime promotes two reactions from people. Aggression and fear.
Aggression because the more people see horrible crimes being committed, the more normalized it becomes for them. The media desensitizes violence and glamorizes it. The documentaries on various serial killers and heinous crimes arouse excitement in people.
On the other hand, the constant exposure to crime also promotes fear. The media exaggerates the risk of victimization. As it mostly reports extraordinary and extreme crimes, the media instills fear by making people believe that they can easily be the next victim of a serial killer or a kidnapper. In most cases, the most likely victim is presented to be a young woman, a child, or an old woman, however, men are much more likely to be a victim of a violent crime.
This is not to say that people should stop being cautious and think that they might be the victim of a crime. This is simply to point out the distortion created by the media.