Media Portrayal of Crimes
The media is a powerful institution that can disseminate information to a large group of people. It shapes individuals perception of the crime, morals, and what they consider right or wrong. This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of how the media portrays crime and how it influences the public perceptions of crime. It also presents an in-depth discussion of racial hoaxes and their effects on the publics understanding of the concepts of race and crime. Lastly, it elucidates the concept hate crime, its impacts, and its related benefits and harms.
Media Portrayal of Crimes
Although media is considered an essential platform for disseminating information, it can distort the frequency and severity of crimes by overrepresenting certain groups or cases in the media. News producers always make decisions on what events to report and how to convey them. The producers primary aim is to relay news in a manner that will invoke emotions or create a public sensation. The frequency and manner in which the media reports these stories will influence the publics construction of the crimes social reality.
This culture of filtering information to create newsworthy articles can lead to misrepresentation in crime-related activities. The media can overrepresent certain groups, including people of color and males, as crime perpetrators, creating cultural stereotypes that reinforce the publics hostility towards such groups. Multiple studies have demonstrated that Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans are seldom the television news subjects, while blacks are commonly portrayed as crime perpetrators and violent. According to Dixon (2017), white people are likely to be described as crime victims; this holds true for homicides and other crime types. Depending on the number of times crimes are reported, and how the news is relayed, viewers can identify patterns and form distorted realities of the crime.
Crime depictions in the the actual crime rate and seldom match the official crime statistics. When the public frequently sees these crimes, it influences their estimates of the real crimes frequency. Walter et al. (2017) revealed that the general public believes that violent crimes are more common in property crime when in the real sense, these crimes account for only ten percent of all crimes. Walter and associates attribute this misconception to the media constantly reporting on violent crimes instead of property crimes, which are far more common than violent crimes.
Example of a Story Distorted by the Media
Recently, a man gunned down eight people, six of whom were Asian Americans, in Atlanta. The media reported this attack as an even though they lacked evidence that the shooting was racially motivated. The Washington Post and The New York Times depicted it as an anti-Asian white supremacist misogynist hate-based attack (Wulfsohn, 2021). The media outlets were trying to push the narrative that white supremacists were fueling the . In contrast, official reports show that the shooting was an isolated event, and there was no provable link that it was racially motivated. The center for Hate and Extremism reported that eighteen out of twenty hate crimes are committed by Hispanic Americans and Blacks, debunking the myth that whites were fueling the hate crimes in the crime (Wulfsohn, 2021). Andrew Sullivan, a media personality, criticized the media for publicizing this incident to create irrational fear among public members.
This story illustrates how the media can distort the severity and frequency of an account. While the incident was an isolated case, media outlets covered the same narrative a dozen times in different ways to magnify its severity. The Washington Post and the New York Times covered the same incident in more than two dozen stories (Wulfsohn, 2021). Covering this story multiple times created the illusion that were increasing when in a real sense, they were not. Walter et al. (2017) supports this view by arguing that media cases rarely match official reports. While the media blamed white supremacists, police investigations showed that the perpetrator was a sex addict and was triggered when he saw the sources of temptation. Seven out of the eight victims that the perpetrator shot were women.
Racial Hoaxes and Their Effects
A racial hoax is an intentional attempt to spread blame, exclusion, fear, or hate by producing and circulating a criminal allegation. Katherine Russel indicates that racial deception occurs when someone fabricates a crime and blames it on another person because of his race OR when an actual crime has been committed, and the perpetrator falsely blames someone because of his race (as cited in Walter et al. 2017, p. 40). These people usually aim to create hatred and discontent against an individual or groupings on the grounds of race, religion, or ethnicity.