By Paul Mason
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Extra info for Criminal Visions : Media Representations of Crime and Justice
Tucked away at the end, the story reports that ‘there were 1,500 fewer sexual offences’ according to the Home Office. In short, the underlying statistical changes reported are very similar in the two stories. But whereas in 1961 the emphasis is on the good news, and the writing style is restrained and descriptive, the 1977 story spotlights the bad news in a tone of panic. The contrast illustrates a number of basic trends in the reporting of crime news. Above all, it indicates the construction of crime as a major problem posing an increasing threat both in extent and seriousness.
2000a, b). Stories about non-violent property crime – the bulk of offences recorded by the police or experienced by victims – were commonly reported in the first two postwar decades. However, they are now almost never reported unless they feature celebrities. The place of such stories has been taken by stories about drug offences, which did not feature at all in the earlier period. The now almost complete monopolization of crime news by stories about violence itself suggests that crime is represented as a more serious threat.
There are no official victim surveys before 1981, but the current statistics also suggest a male preponderance in victimization by violent crime (Barclay and Tavares, 1999: 15). 5 11 71 N=227 tend to exaggerate the risks of older groups. Whereas around 20–30 per cent of identified victims in stories are aged over 30, the overwhelming majority of victims of violent crime (especially male victims) are under 24 (Barclay and Tavares, 1999: 15). The preponderance of middle- (or higher-) class victims in news stories (about 20–30 per cent throughout the period) also exaggerates the risks of these groups.