Over the past few decades, we have seen a huge growth in the production and accessibility of the media. Ways of communicating through the media were relatively self contained in the 18th century, and were expressed by print and word of mouth. However, from the early 20th century this use of communication has exploded into mass media.
This explosion of mass media has occurred as a direct result of the profound transformations in the development and technological advances of devices such as electrical equipment and transportation.Media has become more accessible via the creation and development of television, Radio, newspapers, the internet and most recently the expansion and high profile development of mobile phone technology. These advancements create a wider audience, more opportunity and faster access to media services and the news as it occurs by giving more choice and viewing options for the audiences.
(Giddens, 2005) The earliest of media were newspapers, deriving from pamphlets and information sheets circulated in the early 18th century.From 1900, these newspapers became daily impact of public life, therefore creating discussion regarding the content and could therefore be said to be influencing the audiences and readers opinions and personal beliefs. Following the end of World War Two, television was introduced, and now fifty years on, there are hundreds of channels. These channels are from all over the world and accessible all over the world being offered through the technological advances of satellite and cable television. (Bilton et al, 2002) These advances allow access and 24 hour viewing, on stories and reports such as crime.An example being the trial of Michael Jackson in 2005, this was screened all over the world from the United States of America as it happened. It goes without saying that forms of media such as newspapers are there to make money, hence the media industry is now dominated by large companies and organisations which have gradually been incorporated into highly centralised media conglomerates. Traditionally, all media and telecommunication companies, in most countries, were partially if not fully owned by the state and were therefore funded by the state.
However as a result of the liberalization of the business environment and the changes in regulations, the commercialisation and privatisation of many media companies has occurred. A direct result of a relaxation of regulations resulted and this causing the diversification of the media industry. An example of this being AOL-Time Warner, this company produces and distributes a mixture of media content including music, news, print media, and television programming.This diversification and expansion of the industry has resulted in one persons or organisations opinions being reported to a wider and more direct audience. (Giddens, 2005) When reporting on criminal activity, the media had the tendency to report on stories that will affect public opinion the most. For example, a drug user or homeless young person being mugged or attacked is far less likely to attract a large media audience as and elderly lady being robbed and attacked in her own home would. This often occurs because of how both the media and society perceives both the criminal and the victim.
Through the national crime survey (NCS) ( Lee, 1983) it has been shown that young males, between 18 and 30 are more likely to be victims of criminal offences than people are elderly and especially female. However the general public do not see this or recognise this as factual or true information because the media generally do not report such crimes against young male’s but those committed to the minority. This is therefore an example of the influence of the media that the general public and audience perceives that the elderly within our society are far more vulnerable and at risk of being victims of criminal activity.This example therefore shows that the media tends to report crimes that do not create a true picture of what is currently happening in society today. (Giddens, Sociology) When the media reports on crime they generally use males as examples of criminals, though this has changed over recent years. When crime is committed by women and this is reported it tends to be high profile and perceived by the public as extremely shocking.
This shock may derive from the fact that, women, even by today’s society, are seen to be soft, gentle home makers and victims of crime rather than the criminal.In 1997, 83% of all those found guilty or cautioned of committing crime, were male. Following this, there is also an enormous imbalance in the ratio of men to women in prison, (Giddens, 2005) with women only making up 3% of the prison population. This could be due to the way the media lacks reporting crime committed by women and therefore public opinion has not been affected, this would therefore result in jury’s taking more lenient views against the offender and therefore the punishment for offences not being as harsh as the punishments imposed on male offenders.Especially young male offenders who the media generally use a large proportion of the time to influence the public in convincing them that these are the main perpetrators of crime.
(Lee et al, 1983) In the 1950’s, Otto Pollak, suggested that the real gender difference in crime rates is less, he suggested that certain crimes committed by women tend to go unreported both to the police and by the media unless the crime is severe.It was also suggested by Pollak, that women’s predominantly domestic role provided them with the opportunity to commit crimes at home and in the private spheres. This could also be seen as relevant in today’s society. This can also count towards the perception and influence the media has on public opinion as if it was reported she was a single mother working all hours to support a family because the father had left her then the sympathy from the general public is likely to be higher and created by the report from the media.Whereas if it was a report on a single father supporting a family, then the media would make him out to be a bad character as he has provided a bad role model for his children and therefore they public is likely to be influenced in this manner of thinking too. Therefore the sentencing would likely be harsher for the male than for the female criminal. (Giddens, 2005) As a direct result of the media, crime is often associated with young men, especially those in lower socio-economic classes. However it is important to remember and comment on white-collar crimes.
White collar crimes are those criminal offences committed by those people in the more affluent sectors of society. The term, white collar crime, can cover many types of criminal activity such as tax frauds, illegal sales practices, securities and land frauds, embezzlement, the manufacturing or sale of dangerous products, as well as straightforward criminal activity such as theft. As a result of both the media and public opinion, white collar crimes are regarded by the law enforcement authorities in a more tolerable light than crimes committed by the less privileged, impoverished offender.Even thought the costs of the white collar crimes to the public and government tend to be higher in terms of capital. (Giddens, 2005) In summary, by using the technological advances and the way the media in today’s society is used it gives us a clear understanding of what is going on, however this understanding derives from the personal objectives of the origins of the report and also the current attitudes society has in terms of stereotyping.
So in essence the media reports can influence and provide a picture which according to National Crime Surveys is different. So the media reports on the fears of society and expectations of them but by doing this it reinforces these and gives an untrue and un-press dented fact to what is actually occurring in criminal and offender trends.