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Monash University
General Education Studies
Asher Flynn

Blood, Violence & Fear: Making Crime Newsworthy Agenda setting. The way in which those who work within the media decide what is important enough to report. Audience. The assumed group at whom media texts are aimed. Binary oppositions. Notion that the media presents the world through polarised constructions of difference which are fixed and immutable e.g. man/woman. Citizen journalism. Form of demographic participation brought about by mass ownership of phones with cameras, image sharing sites and popularity of blogs. Ethnocentrism. When a country‟s news organisations value their own notion over others. Framing. The shared cultural narratives and myths that a news story conveys via recourse to vital imagery, stereotyping and other journalistic shortcuts. Ideology. Refers to the ideas that circulate in society and how they represent/misrepresent the social world. Moral majority. Encapsulates the imagined community to which the popular press address themselves. Newsworthiness. Encapsulates the perceived public appeal/interest of any potential news story (determined by news values). News values (12). Professional, yet informal codes used in the selection, construction and presentation of news stories. Populism/populist punitiveness. Perception that the public demands more punitive justice and punishment strategies to deter would-be offenders from committing crime. Public appeal. Measured in sales figures and ratings. Public interest. Qualitative assessments of what public should/shouldn‟t be made aware of. Social constructionism. Emphasises importance of social expectations in the analysis of taken-for- granted and apparently natural social processes. Avoids the conventional binary opposition of representation/reality by suggesting that there is no intrinsic meaning in things, but that meaning is conferred according to shared cultural references and experiences. Representation  Portray/depict something.  Representations of crimes come in different forms: o Visual e.g. movies, TV shows, nightly news. o Written texts e.g. articles, books. o Verbal communication e.g. friend telling you, politician making a speech. o Statistics/numbers. Importance of media  Allow us to access and give meaning to crime. o Provide us with knowledge, understanding and meaning. o What‟s happened. o Who is involved. o Responses of the CJS. o Gain knowledge without direct involvement. o Help us understand and make sense of crime. o Accord some meaning to why crime happens.  Provides a story around the facts e.g. a woman with 3 kids is killed.  Provide a context.  Helps us gain a perception of what‟s occurring and how to respond.  Media‟s role in representing reality is highly contested and subject to interpretation. Constructing the ‘truth’  Media representations of crime are productive.  Actively construct the „reality‟/‟truth‟ of crime.  Do not simply reflect the „reality‟ of crime – they offer their account. o E.g. Underbelly – Gang A depicted committing a murder (constructed reality); Gang B tried for the murder (actual reality). ‘Reality’ & ‘meaning’ constructed  Meaning or significance is a product of social processes.  By representing crime we decide what a certain crime means.  Crime occurring = the fact.  Factors that shape news production: o Meditated picture of „reality‟ is shaped by the production processes of news organisations and the structural determinants of news making, any or all of which may influence the image of crime, criminals and the CJS in the minds of the public. o Media makes assumptions about their audience.  Select news items and prioritise some news stories over others (agenda-setting).  Edit words, adopt a particular tone and decide on visual images (framing).  Meaning of the crime = debated and constructed by representations. o Media plays significant role in construction. o The way crimes are presented through the media is to shape the meaning of the crime as well as others. o They actively produce a reality around crime. o How we conceptualise and view crime is shaped by the media.  Represensttion example – 9/11: o 1 pndception – plane crash. o 2 perception – US under attack. o 3 perception – „great crime‟; „crime against humanity‟. o 4 perception – „act of war‟; „act of terrorism‟. o It is through the representation of these attacks as an „act of war‟ that they have come to be understood in the way that they have  Representation example – Redfern Riots: o Events occurred in response to the deaths of Indigenous Australians arguably due to police negligence. o Use of term „riots‟ shifts the focus from „act of political resistance‟ to „Indigenous Australians misbehaving. o Depicted to us as a riot, drunk people lashing out at police. The nature of media representations  Ideal – free from political influence, objective account.  Not completely comprehensive or objective.  Adopt a partial, selective and particular approach (they decide the parts they‟re going to report).  Trying to sell to us by reporting what they think we want to see the most. What makes news newsworthy  Unexpectedness: o New, sudden or rare. E.g. 9/11. o Draws a lot of news attention, shocks/inspires confusion.  Unambiguous: o Simple, easy to follow, somewhat routine. o General court reporting. o E.g. drunk driving with a twist – father 3X BAC.  Meaningful: o Relevance to people‟s lives. o Sense of proximity. o E.g. death of Australians overseas; Victorian bushfires.  Elite people: o Celebrities or people we know as either victims or offenders. o E.g. Lindsay Lohan, anything gangland related.  News values: o Value judgements that journos make about the public appeal of a story and whether it is in the public interest. o Bad news is usually favoured over good news. News values  Threshold (importance). o Has to be massive e.g. bombing, mass killings, etc. o Media usually first use shock horror headlines - occasion for all sorts of narratives to explain what happened. o The more bizarre the more likely it will be reported. o Humorous, nostalgic, grotesque more likely to be reported. 
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