3. Media and Crime
This chapter has mainly focused on news media representations of crime and criminal justice, but it is clear that entertainment media similarly distort the image of crime in their portrayals. Media scholars distinguish traditional or legacy media, which encapsulate newspapers, magazines, radio, television, films, as well as books and music recordings, from new media, which includes Internet, video games, and social media (Surette, 2015). New media have transformed the landscape and shaken the foundations of some of the theories discussed in this chapter. Media organisations no longer hold a monopoly on news, and the version of the world they present is subject to far greater challenges and counter-narratives than they were in the past (Fleras, 2011). New media shift the role of the audience from passive consumers to active participants and producers of media content. Internet news and social media operate differently than traditional news, as they encourage engagement. They offer an oppositional gaze to the dominant media gaze (Fleras, 2011). Research has found that engagement in social media can contribute to changing opinions and increasing activism as well as impacting the fear of crime (Grant & Smith, 2021; Intravia et al., 2017; Intravia & Pickett, 2019).
The shift is not complete, however, as “looping” between the legacy and new media is apparent. Looping refers to the recycling of media content in different formats, different contexts, and different outlets (Surette, 2015; see also 12 Cultural Criminology). It is not uncommon to see social media posts linking to traditional media reports. Likewise, traditional media include quotes of what people have said on social media posts on the topic of their reports.
The advent of social media has also allowed groups whose voices have often been silenced in mainstream media to have a platform for sharing their views, shining light on injustice, keeping authorities in check, and advocating for social justice. Cellphone footage of police use-of-force incidents shared online have contributed to challenging the dominant discourses whereby police were the only ones defining what happened in particular incidents. The power of movements such as #MeToo has led to the push for the removal of high-status individuals from their roles in public life with unprecedented frequency (see, for example, the case of former judge Robin Camp).
Several social movements have also been able to harness the power of social media to some extent in advancing their economic and political concerns (e.g., Arab Spring, BLM). The Idle No More movement, which is a grassroots Indigenous movement started in 2012, has gone even further than merely raising concerns about Indigenous and treaty rights. The #IdleNoMore hashtag allowed organisers to not only disseminate information and frame it to help the public understand the stakes, mobilise people and resources, unite geographically dispersed people, share opinions, and criticise policy, but also to reflect Indigenous culture more broadly through discussions of group membership, land, epistemologies, cultural production, resistance, and language (Raynauld et al., 2017; Richez et al., 2020).
traditional types of media (that existed pre-Internet), including print (newspapers, magazines, books), visual (films, television programs), and audio (radio, music recordings) forms
term used to refer to Internet-based news, entertainment, social media, video games, etc. that are interactive
the way in which the perspective on society conveyed in mainstream media is similar to the dominant institutional perspective and encourages the audience to adopt the same perspective
the recirculation of media content in different formats, contexts, and media outlets