Crime And Criminality
Effects of Media on creating negative image
Media is one of the major players by which people get information about all the things that are happening around them. But in order to make more money and attract the attention of people, media has made the fun of legal system of the country and they are portraying the misleading information’s to the public by using misleading facts, drama, etc. It has influenced the people a lot and they are losing their faith on legal system of the country.
Do the public receive an accurate view of the crime problem by reading, viewing and listening to popular media outputs?
It is a fact that people have always been fascinated by crimes despite of the very big fact that all the crimes are condemned by them only. People hear, read, and watch about criminal activities with the help of media channels like radio, television, newspapers, internet, etc. Role of media has increased from the late twentieth century to this new twenty first century as it is available at all the places and they cover each and every story that happens even in the remotest areas of the country (Barkan and Bryjak, 2013). Media tells the people about what is happening around them so that they can be aware about the latest happenings. As the speed of crimes is increasing in United Kingdom so is the role of media in providing all the crime related reports to the public. However, from last few years it has been a topic of big issue that is media portraying the correct views of the crimes which people read, watch and listen from newspapers, TV and Radio.
It can be said that attitude of the public to the criminal justice system is greatly and dominantly affected and influenced by what they see, read and hear on Television, radio and newspapers and now on the internet also. Media has become one of the most powerful and significant sources of legal information by which the perception of the general public regarding law and order is formed and shaped.
The main concern is that, media is very much capable of persuading the people to create their own perceptions and notions regarding the legal systems that is based on the misconceptions, false facts and prejudice. With the help of various images and sounds media has the capability of influencing the reaction of individuals towards the legal issues and can easily convince them to accept the media’s distorted perspective (Wood, 2013).
From past few years media is not doing their proper work and they have failed to portray the law accurately. Information and representations have become completely distorted because they are presented in a manner that is totally misleading and inconsistent in respect of their original form (Beith, 2010). It can be easily seen from the case of Caesar Barber which was the complete distortion. Caesar Barber took class action lawsuit against various fast food restaurants because they were not informing the public about the harmful risks that are associated with the consumption of fast food. The main aim of the lawsuit was to increase public awareness so that all the large corporations can be made legally accountable for their pervasive deceptions. However, the media tried to attract their readers using different tactics to undermine the importance and socio-legal implications of the case. Media took the advantage of this story and used very catchy phrases, humorous pictures and witty headlines to make the story more entertaining and to create market value.
As per some of the experts, it is very important for media to resort to the use of these antics and dramatic techniques to gain mass appeal. However, some of the reporters said that, media has to use these distorted images of the legal system so that they can secure their ratings, retain their power and can influence the public. It has been noticed that the exploration and explication of all the legal doctrines are considered to be very dull and complex for the popular media. Thus to do business, media responds to market pressure by employing various tactics in order to attract the customers by using the misleading headlines and false images to incite the emotional responses of the public.
Media and law are related to each other in number of ways as the media is subject to legal discourse and various lawyers, policy makers are constantly involved in the regulation of different forms of media such as radio, television, etc. Regulation of media has become very serious issue and many efforts have been made to solve this. Also the law and media are connected to each other through communication about law and legal events by media. Law is an integral part of everyday experiences and it has become a dominant source of information that helps to shape the experience and understanding of the social life. This same principle can be applied to media as it also represents the regular life and helps to formulate an understanding of the social reality.
According to BBC, the risk of becoming a victim of crime in England and Wales is increasing day by day and they have also mentioned that anyone who is reading this particular headline would definitely come in impression that according to official figures that crime is very high in the country. But this is not exactly the statistical proof of the condition and the large number of people who skim the headline of the newspapers will think that the situation is very alarming. Through this it can be seen that focus on one topic of the media can give rise to various misconceptions about the criminal justice system and the question come into mind that if the media has such a large impact on the thinking of people, then why they use the distorting and false images to represent the crimes. It can be said that media only focuses the small number of the criminal offences which includes the serious crimes such as murder, sexual assault or the celebrity crimes and the dramatic potential of the criminal litigation is overwhelmingly preferred in which all the news is biased and dramatic which attracts the people.
Due to all these misconceptions one main danger that is increasing is that it will erode the confidence of public in the legal systems. This lack of confidence in the state institutions and in the particular court systems can easily lead to form of vigilant justice. Public opinion about the legal system is highly influenced by the media reports about the crime, so it will also follow that the public’s ignorance about the judiciary and sentencing is completely based on the media representations which is very misleading and inappropriate.
Distinguishing between facts and fiction has become a very difficult task for the viewers. At this time all the fictional events are becoming more real because of the various television programs that dramatize the law and judicial systems like the show called as the Ally McBeal and People’s court (Mackay, 2007). The line between facts and fiction is becoming more and more difficult to discern and it is not something that has been emerged recently. Metaphors like justice is blind, war on terror, cold blooded murderer, lawyers are leaches are used by the media to represent their angle on the legal story by relating that perspective with the human experiences. News Channels are using these metaphors to paint certain picture with which the viewers are easily able to connect because of the different values and emotions attached to all these metaphors which easily distort the representations of the truth in crime.
It can be said that not only media but law itself is very guilty for placing too much emphasis on the power of media to corrupt the perception of the public towards the legal system. Also the various lawyers and other clients like the media because they use different stories and techniques to elicit the emotional responses from the jury and to convey the particular point of view. By focusing on the negative effects, the media is on popular conceptions of the law and various pro-social effects of the media have been overlooked. It is important to understand that media is a key player in making certain that the legal system is balanced by bringing all the controversial and important issues to the public so that they can be aware of what is going on around them (Jewkes, 2010). They should stop making fun of the legal system and people should also understand that all the stories which are shown in the dramatic way are cannot b true. So their self consciousness is also very important in order to understand the true story.
From this report it can be concluded that Media is interpreting the legal system in the wrong way and they are influencing the people with the use of drama, misleading facts and other things. Due to this the trust of people on the legal system is reducing day by day. It is important for government to take some strict actions on these news channels and reports so that proper and true information could reach to public. Also media should understand their power and responsibility towards the country and people by helping the government to stop the crime and not by making it a drama for the public.
Barkan, S. And Bryjak, G., 2013. Myths and Realities of Crime and Justice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Wood, J., 2013. Public Opinion Criminal Justice: Context, Practice and Values. Routledge.
Mackay, J., 2007. Media Bias: Finding It, Fixing It. McFarland.
Jewkes, Y., 2010. Media & Crime. SAGE.
Beith, A., 2010. Cutting Crime: The Case for Justice Reinvestment, First Report of Session. The Stationery Office
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