The media item that will be analysed will be the Daily Mail. The aim is to do a content analysis of the paper where the amount and type of crime portrayed is analysed, and do a discourse analysis, where how crime is portrayed is analysed. The Daily Mail is a tabloid newspaper and has the second highest circulation figures, with 2,311,849 in February 2004 and usually consists of 80 – 100 pages.
It includes daily coverage on news and sports and contains advertisers. To analyse the crime portrayal and coverage of the paper the Daily Mail was collected on a daily basis over a 1 month period.Collecting for a month was sufficient as it provided representative results. The paper collected was dated from 13th February to 13th March. The target audience of the Daily Mail is the general public. As it is a tabloid newspaper it is an easy read.
The newspaper is split between factual information in the form of news and advertisers. A significant amount of space is allocated to advertisers by the newspaper. The newspaper was analysed both using quantitative and qualitative methods.
The quantitative method included doing a content analysis.Content analysis includes counting the number of significant events in a day’s newspaper and working out the percentage. In this case the amount of space allocated to crime stories was relevant so that was calculated. This was done by, first identifying crime related stories from the non crime related stories. From the crime related stories the different types of crime was identified and the area given to the article was measured. The percentage area given to the different crime stories was worked out by finding the area in cmi?? designated to a particular crime article and then dividing that by the total area of the paper.This was then multiplied by 100 to get a percentage. The aim was to see if certain types of crime were over represented or under represented in newspapers.
The crime articles were sorted into different categories and these were violent crime, which included any kind of violence against a person, sexual offences, homicide and racially aggravated assaults. Property crime, which included robbery, burglary, vehicle crime, vandalism, criminal damage and fraud and forgery. Drug crime and other crime, which included offences that did not fit into the above categories for example, immigration offences, perverting the court of justice and kidnapping.The aim of this was to compare the percentage of space given to different types of crime with that of BCS figures and see whether the newspapers over represented violent crime as opposed to property crime. From the analysis it was found that the average total percentage coverage of all crime related stories in the paper was 2. 67% in an average day. The percentage coverage of the different crime was worked out and it was found that violent crime was over represented in the newspapers and property crime was under represented.The newspaper portrayed over 90% of violent crime stories and just 5% of property crime, however the BCS figures show that in the year 2001/02 violent crime only accounted for about 15% of all crime, whereas property crime accounted for about 82% of all crime.
Violent crime has been over represented by a huge amount in the papers. Not a lot of priority is given to property crime in the papers even though a huge amount of recorded crime is in fact property crime. The percentage space allocated to drug crime and other crime in the paper were similar to that recorded by the BCS.
In the papers 4% of all crime was drug crime and less than 0. 5% was other crime. Newspapers over represent violent crime as this is what the public want to hear about and that’s what makes news.
People do not want to be reading about property being burgled every day. The extreme stories make interesting news and that is why they are over represented in papers. As well as doing a quantitative analysis it was important to do a qualitative analysis as the portrayal of crime stories is also important as well as the instances of the stories.
Quantitative analysis is done in a process known as discourse analysis. Discourse analysis involves coding material and identifying themes and patterns in the text. Discourse analysis was done using Young’s’ (1997) idea on ‘Square of Crime’. The idea is based on the notion that crime is a result of a number of forces, these are the state, the victim, the offender and the society. The theory comes from the Left Realist view that crime is not only a product of the four factors but also the result of the relationship between them.All the crime stories reported in the paper involved the offender the victim some sort of control agency, either the police or the courts and the general public.
The theory claims that the state and the control agencies work together in reducing crime and this is portrayed in some of the articles. Of the space allocated to crime stories the majority of it would be taken by violent crime stories. The violent crime stories would be given double pages, usually consisting some pictures of the offender and the victim. There would sometimes be a small picture on the side of where the crime took place.The article would be given a large title that would spread over the two pages. Property crime was most likely to be given either one or two columns at the side or at the bottom of the page. The title for the article would be much smaller and the article would rarely contain pictures. If there was a picture it would be more likely to contain a picture of the property than of the victim.
The theory looks at offenders by looking at what types of crime they have committed and why they have committed it. The aim is to see how the offender is portrayed in the paper.The use of language and pictures will be looked at to see if they have an impact on the way the offender is portrayed.
For violent crimes the title of the article is always in big bald writing and the reader is instantly informed on what the article is about. The title usually gives the overview of the article. The titles were very effective in that the reader would be likely to view the offender in a negative light just by reading the title, the titles would use words such as evil, monstrous, callous and cruel to describe the offender.Most of the violent crime stories had large pictures of the offender somewhere on the page. Usually under the picture there would be captions describing the offender as evil and heartless.
The language used to describe the offender was always negative, therefore portraying the offender in a negative way. The crime committed by the offender was always shown as being a voluntary act, committed by free will. The article would give the detail of the crime and the offender would be portrayed as a dangerous man who should be locked up.The actual crime would be summarised in the first paragraph and the story would follow in more detail. The victim would mostly be portrayed as the helpless innocent person and many times would be hailed as a hero. The victims were usually female or young children and were often described as being left emotionally tormented and psychologically affected. The crime committed against them would be termed as horrific and wicked and the victim would be sometimes referred to with the word ‘prey’.
The article would usually contain a picture of the victim and the victim would be usually shown as the innocent person.Quite a few times the picture of the victim would be of their school photo. The use of school photos is very effective as the innocence of the victim is portrayed. The main control agents portrayed in the papers were the police.
The newspaper would use interview with the police to educate the readers on what is being done to reduce this type of act being committed again. The police would also pledge the public not to worry claiming theses types of crime were very actually rare and unlikely to happen again.If the offender had been convicted, details of the conviction would be given. If the offender hadn’t been caught the police would usually give a description of the offenders and pledge the public to come forward if they recognise the person. The newspapers also interviewed any witnesses of the crime, but usually the witnesses were anonymous and their identity was not given. The witnesses were seen to work with the police in giving the descriptions of the offender and relevant information they have that could help with the investigation.Most of the victims portrayed in the newspapers were either female, young children or teenagers. There was very little coverage on men being a victim of crime.
Portraying females and young children as victims would result in the readers being sympathetic towards them as they are the more vulnerable than men. The offenders portrayed in the newspaper was most likely to be male, very few of the offenders were female. This is very stereotypical as it portrays the men as criminals, when in reality females can be just as likely to commit a violent crime.Also the papers tended to concentrate too much on violent crime and very little of its space were designated to property crime. However property crime is more likely to occur and there is more of a chance of somebody becoming a victim of property crime than violent crime. Crime such as white collar crime weren’t represented in the papers at all.
The police were the main control agents portrayed in the papers. Although control agents like the courts and judges play an important role in deterring crime they were rarely represented in the papers.