Major lessons
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Major Lessons. Media generally ignore law-making, with the exception of some highly publicized crimes that lead to new laws. Most crime is ignored by the press; random, heinous, violent crimes committed by some types of offenders against certain types of victims are more likely to be featured.

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Major Lessons

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Major lessons

Major Lessons

  • Media generally ignore law-making, with the exception of some highly publicized crimes that lead to new laws.

  • Most crime is ignored by the press; random, heinous, violent crimes committed by some types of offenders against certain types of victims are more likely to be featured.

Major lessons1

Major Lessons

  • Media rely heavily on official sources for information about crime, police, courts, and corrections, thereby limiting the breadth of issues explored and reinforcing status quo approaches to addressing crime.

  • Media coverage of criminal justice agencies is highly inaccurate, thereby reinforcing major misconceptions about criminal justice practice.

Major lessons2

Major Lessons

  • There are major similarities in entertainment and infotainment coverage of these issues.

  • But entertainment and infotainment media are less accurate, owing in part to the fact that their main goal is to entertain rather than to inform.

Three examples

Three examples

  • To Catch a Predator (MSNBC) --

  • 48 Hours Mystery (CBS) --;contentBody

  • Nearly every program on TruTV --

Crime on tv

Crime on TV

  • Popular since 1970s … widely popular shows about crime and criminal justice for more than 4 decades!

  • Dominant form of justice shown is corrective justice or “justice as an outcome”

    • holding the guilty responsible for their crimes, consistent with the Crime Control Model of justice

Crime on tv1

Crime on TV

  • Most popular shows right now???


Overemphasize violence

Overemphasize violence

  • Studies of entertainment and infotainment shows have consistently found that they tend to overemphasize violent crime

Center for media public affairs

Center for Media & Public Affairs

  • Researchers identified 8,350 scenes of violence including 4,204 scenes of serious violence (i.e., murder, rape, kidnapping and assault) in the 100 movies, 284 episodes of television series and 189 music videos they studied.

Center for media public affairs1

Center for Media & Public Affairs


  • Broadcast TV series – 18 per hour

  • Movies in theaters – 15 per hour

  • Music videos – 15 per hour

  • Cable TV series – 9 per hour

  • TV movies – 7 per hour

Center for media public affairs2

Center for Media & Public Affairs

  • Violence in these forms of media tends to be “value free.”

    • is used by both heroes and villains

    • rarely causes physical or emotional harm

    • rarely leads to any condemnation or punishment

    • sometimes depicted as laudable and even necessary

Law order

Law & Order

  • First aired in 1990

  • Longest running crime series and second longest running drama series in history of TV

  • Features stories “ripped from the headlines”

Law order1

Law & Order

  • Divided into two equal parts

    • the first focusing on crime and investigation by the police

    • the second on prosecution of accused

Law order2

Law & Order

  • Led to spin-offs including:

    • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU)

    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent

    • Law & Order: Trial by Jury

    • Law & Order: Los Angeles

    • Law & Order: UK

Law order the opening lines

Law & Order: The Opening Lines …

  • criminal justice system


  • “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the police who investigate crime, and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

  • investigate

  • crime

  • prosecute the offenders

  • And does anyone else in criminal justice “represent the people?”

Law order3

Law & Order

  • Studies of the shows find:

    • Juveniles depicted as violent and murderers

    • Most offenders are male and white

    • Children offenders mostly poor or middle-class

    • Black offenders shown as impoverished, financially motivated, and drug-addicted

    • Major motivations are financial/rational, emotional, and psychological

    • Mentally ill overrepresented (7% claim “not guilty by reason of insanity”)

Law order4

Law & Order

  • Studies of the shows find:

    • Only about half of SVU episodes deal with sex crimes

    • Many SVU episodes deal with murders of white males

    • Most victims (60%) are dead by end of show

    • Most offenders are known to the victims

    • Half of victims are under age of 18

    • Two-thirds of victims are white (black female victims almost completely absent from show)

    • Women overrepresented as offenders (33%)

    • Women shown as particularly cruel and violent

Law order5

Law & Order

  • Studies of the shows find:

    • More than 90% of offenders are convicted

    • Regularly features civil rights violations by the police (e.g., excessive use of force)

    • About 98% of CJ officials are white

    • Murders by guns underrepresented and murder by knives and hands overrepresented

Major lessons


  • A study by Wes Shipley and Gray Cavender analyzed the five top-grossing films in a one year period over each of the past four decades (i.e., 1964, 1974, 1984, and 1994).

  • Violence generally increased across the four decades.

    • 1964: 144 violent acts (29 acts per film)

    • 1974: 168 violent acts (34 acts per film)

    • 1984: 307 violent acts (61 acts per film)

    • 1994: 223 violent acts (45 acts per film)

Major lessons


  • Instances of death also rose over time.

    • 1964: 41 deaths (8 deaths per film)

    • 1974: 44 deaths (9 deaths per film)

    • 1984: 38 deaths (8 deaths per film)

    • 1994: 76 deaths (15 deaths per film).

Major lessons


  • Graphic violence and graphic death also rose.

  • Acts of graphic violence from 2 in 1964, to 12 in 1974, to 16 in 1984, to 64 in 1994.

  • Acts of raphics deaths increased from 0 in 1964, to 6 in 1974, to 10 in 1984, to 47 in 1994.

Major lessons


  • 2000s?








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