CRIM4004: Should media companies be held accountable for ‘copycat crimes’ inspired by the crime-related content they produce: Media and crime Essay, OBU, UK

University Oxford Brookes University (OBU)
Subject CRIM4004: Media and crime

Task

1. Should media companies be held accountable for ‘copycat crimes’ inspired by the crime-related content they produce? Approach the question by reflecting on media effects research.

2. Does the media system provide a democratic arena where all groups and interests can be heard (pluralist model) or are it mainly class propaganda that serves the interests of the powerful (hegemonic model)? Why does this matter for media criminology?

3. Is moral panic a relevant and adequate concept in understanding the media distortion and amplification of crime and deviance, in our times? Discuss by referring to specific examples of moral panics, as well as the insights and shortcomings of the theory.

4. Why are some categories or groups of offenders more newsworthy than others? Bring in original examples of news reporting and think of how notions of age, gender, ethnicity or class intersect with media depictions of crime and criminals.

5. Why do some criminals such as serial killers get more media attention and coverage than crime victims? Refer to the cultural appeal of serial killing and to the principles of critical victimology.

6. Can journalists and the press be considered responsible for some of the trauma faced by crime victims? Think of the concept of ‘secondary victimisation’, the News of the World scandal and the Leveson inquiry into the ethical failings of the British media.

7. What are ‘signal crimes’ in the media and how can they influence the public’s perceived risk of being victimised? Critically discuss in connection with concepts such as risk and the fear of crime.

8. To what extent do you believe that popular culture depictions of the criminal justice system reflect the realities of crime and crime control? You can discuss examples of news and/or fictional portrayals of the police, courts or prisons.

9. In a ‘viewer society where almost everything is made visible to others, do systems of surveillance empower or constrain? Build your argument by referring to ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ practices of surveillance.

10. How can new, digital media foster criminogenic environments that are difficult for the police? Discuss in relation to the concept of cybercrime and refer to specific examples.

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