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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78285 Find in a Library
Title: Crime News and the Public
Author(s): D A Graber
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 255
Sponsoring Agency: Praeger Publishers
Westport, CT 06881
Sale Source: Praeger Publishers
88 Post Road West
Westport, CT 06881
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study assesses the amount and kind of mass media information supplied to the public for judging crime and the criminal justice system; provides data on public perception and knowledge about crime; and compares media images of criminals and crime fighting with public perceptions of these.
Abstract: The entire content of major print and electronic news sources (two local and three network TV broadcasts; four daily newspapers) was analyzed for the period January 15, 1976, to January 14, 1977. The media content analysis included an examination of the subject matter discussed by the media as well as the placement and emphasis given to various types of stories. Audience perceptions were checked through multiple interviews and through daily reports from respondents. Study subjects were grouped by locality into 4 panels of 48 members; in addition, a core panel of 21 respondents furnished taped indepth interviews and daily diaries. Study sites were a small town, a medium-sized city, and a metropolitan area. Results supported most of the charges made by critics of crime news coverage. Crime news received ample coverage and display compared to other types of news and disproportionately emphasized street crime as compared with white-collar crime. Further, the media supplied data about specific crimes without sufficient analytical, contextual information, leading citizens to infer that criminals threatened a legitimate social system. However, radical criminologist assertions that the media deliberately show criminals and victims as flawed in character, nonwhite, and lower class proved erroneous; it was the public that attributed these characteristics to criminals. The study indicated that individual and group perceptions concerning crime vary because of selectivity in choosing media and differences in community attitudes and personal preferences. This finding contradicts assumptions about the mass media's power to generate uniformity of public opinion. Footnotes are included, and notes follow each chapter. Appendixes contain codebooks used in the media content analyses and other study instruments. The reference list includes about 95 entries. An index, 47 tables, and 4 figures are given.
Index Term(s): Crime patterns; Crime Rate; Media coverage; Perception; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Public information; Television programming
Note: Praeger Special Studies series.
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