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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 90254 Find in a Library
Title: Disorderly Images - Television's Presentation of Crime and Policing (From Crime, Justice and the Mass Media, P 104-121, 1982, Colin Sumner, ed.)
Author(s): G Murdock
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: University of Cambridge
Cambridge, CB3 9DT, England
Sale Source: University of Cambridge
Institute of Criminology
7 West Road
Cambridge, CB3 9DT,
United Kingdom
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Existing models of the relationship between television and social behavior fail to capture the complexity and variety of the television system, which contains closed programs reflecting issues and viewpoints promoted by political and criminal justice institutions as well as more open programs offering dissenting opinions.
Abstract: Recent debates often treat news programs as symptomatic of all television programing, when they are somewhat unrepresentative and operate under constraints that make the news more closed than other types of output. The demand for instant information results in television showing a riot underway without coverage of its precipitating events and underlying causes. This reinforces the public's image of riots as irrational eruptions of violence and hooliganism and makes reactive policing appear the only rational response. Television news bulletins tend to emphasize crimes that touch popular preoccupations and fears and neglect the more commonly police-reported property crimes. This produces a highly selective image of the crime problem, leading viewers to see the world as more violent than it actually is. In contrast, documentaries are produced after considerable research and analysis. Drama, the most open form of television, can cover a greater range of situations and is not bound by the canons of objectivity and balance. Even police programs reflect viewpoints varying from the traditional law and order outlook to contemporary conflicts between effective policing and maintaining civil liberties. Thus, if television contains a range of contradictory images on the State and civil rights, it will have a contradictory impact on its audience. The paper includes 22 references.
Index Term(s): Great Britain/United Kingdom; Media coverage; Public Opinion of Crime; Public Opinion of the Police; Television programming; Violence on television
Note: Revised version of paper presented to the 14th Cropwood Round-Table Conference, December 1981.
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