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David Indermaur Crime Research Centre University of Western Australia Escaping penal populism: Media Strategies Defining the problem The media do matter There are things we can do to counter or ameliorate the way the media facilitates populist exploitation

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david indermaur crime research centre university of western australia

David IndermaurCrime Research CentreUniversity of Western Australia

Escaping penal populism:

Media Strategies

defining the problem
Defining the problem
  • The media do matter
  • There are things we can do to counter or ameliorate the way the media facilitates populist exploitation
  • Populist benefit means the use of crime and justice for popularity dividend rather than crime reduction or the achievement of justice
slide3
Public opinion exists within a dynamic framework dominated by political initiative, the media and special interest groups.

Responses need to be strategic and work with these existing large influences.

slide4
A model of the interaction of media, public opinion, special interest groups and political decision makers (adapted from Kennamer, 1992).

Political Decision

Makers

The

Public

The

News Media

Special interest

groups

slide5

Political Decision

Makers

The

News Media

Special interest

groups

slide6

Political Decision

Makers

The

News Media

engaging the

media

Tactic 1

Special interest

groups

slide7

Political Decision

Makers

Tactic 2

engaging policy

makers

The

News Media

Special interest

groups

slide8

Political Decision

Makers

The

News Media

engaging SIG’s

Tactic 3

Special interest

groups

what can be done
What can be done?

  Provide information

v    Ensure that the source of funds is made explicit

v    Demand evaluation research

v    Name and shame populism

v   Communicate and share information and resources

v   Shift the debate to more meaningful questions

v    Improve the quality, nature and accessibility of information to the news media

v Promote effective alternative policies and practices

information strategies

Information strategies

Providing readily accessible information for the media

Providing information on cost effectiveness of policies

Dialogue with the media to ensure best up-take.

Providing information to the media on SIG claims, legitimacy

Providing information on SIG agenda, membership, interest etc

asking questions
Asking questions
  • Challenging implicit assumptions
  • Asking for evidence
  • Providing information that raises doubts about the legitimacy of sources of information
challenging populism
Challenging populism
  • Describing process of populist seduction
  • Naming and shaming populist tactics
  • Critiquing crime policy
  • Develop “yellow card”/”red card” system.
  • Publish data demonstrating news coverage versus real crime.
reframing

Reframing

Focus on public safety

Demand accountability of all measures

Ensure all measures are independently evaluated

Introduce accountability devices – such as the “Community safety budget”

developing robust and viable alternative policies
Developing robust and viable alternative policies
  • Highlight potentially more productive practices
  • Promote the development of alternatives
  • Continue to document the costs of imprisonment
building a resource infrastructure16
Building a resource infrastructure

SIGs

Media

Service providers

Information,

Authoritysource

Students

NGOs

Educators

international co operation
International co-operation
  • Sentencing project
  • Coalition for sentencing reform
  • Families against mandatory Minimums
  • Rethinking crime and Punishment
  • NACRO
communication style
Communication style
  • Resonance – acknowledge problem and concern
  • Assertion and ascendancy rather than defensiveness
  • Create attractive imagery – hard working, earnest, tough minded motivated toward service and protection – aggressive rationalism
aggressive rationalism
Aggressive rationalism
  • Attends to the emotional need for action
  • Attends to the media preference for decisive action
  • Allows resonance with the frustration felt by the public
  • Allows speaker to come across as “protector”
example of aggressive rationalism
Example of aggressive rationalism
  • Politicians should ‘get real’ in crime debate, Nacro says
  • Nacro has called on politicians to be realistic about the role the courts can play in tackling crime, and cautioned against further eroding the rights of defendants in the rush to see justice done. The call came as the Audit Commission prepared to release a report expected to show a large gap between recorded crime and the numbers of offenders convicted in the courts.Nacro Chief Executive Paul Cavadino said,‘No one has an interest in offenders evading justice apart from those who commit the crimes. So we support sensible reforms of the criminal justice system to improve the chance of offenders being caught and convicted.‘All the evidence shows that it is the fear of getting caught, rather than the fear of punishment, that acts as a deterrent. Improved detection by the police, rather than greater harshness by the courts, is where reforming energies should be aimed.‘Important as it is to improve the efficiency of the police and courts, this must not be at the expense of innocent people being convicted.‘For years it has been known that the criminal justice system is a blunt instrument when it comes to tackling crime. We are doomed to disappointment if we expect the courts to deal with every crime and every offender. An efficient court system relies on alternative means of resolving crime – such as mediation and restitution – to be more widely used and available.’
bringing it together
Bringing it together
  • Need to establish effective organisations and networks
  • Need to be aware of media processes and avoid “capture”
  • Need to advocate for “Policy buffers’ and other mechanisms to de-politicize crime and justice
examples of counter statements
Examples of counter statements
  • Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime
  • In the past 10 years we’ve relied more upon the toughness test than the effectiveness test in enacting federal criminal legislation …We have not established nor seriously considered whether these policies have made a difference in rates of crime or the safety of our citizens
key principles
Key principles
  • Attend to the emotional and symbolic levels
  • Legitimacy and association are vital establish credibility of opinion leaders
  • Subverting the processes of populism through exposing it