The media appears to have a love affair with its coverage of crime. It would be sufficient if the news outlets simply reported a crime story with cut-and-dried details only. Instead, it raises the fear level among the public with incessant reworking of crime news. The media needs to take responsibility for its relationship with escalating the fear of crime.
The Enormity of Coverage
The NYDailyNews.com, the digital version of the newspaper, dedicates a “Crime” tab on its front-page news section. A quick glance at the “Crime” page and you will find about 50 stories, links, and videos pertaining to “current” crimes. There is also a section called “True Crime Stories.” This section is crammed with pages and pages of “old” crimes.
Consider the huge number of additional crime stories the media can squeeze onto a Web site. Links take up a small degree of space compared to the space an article takes up in a print newspaper. It’s an extreme amount of crime to absorb.
To Click on Not
Of course, you’re thinking: everyone has the choice, whether or not to click on those links. That may be part of the problem. People are hesitant to read about crime; and they are afraid “not” to read the shocking details. It’s a human trait to want to know what took place during a crime.
Once they do know the particulars, the fear sets in. They become anxious. Could this happen in my neighborhood? I think that is a fairly typical reaction to crime.
When the media generates non-stop in-your-face coverage of a horrific crime, it is no longer simply a topic of interest. It becomes something that people cannot stop talking or thinking about. For many, it morphs into something they begin to take on as their personal issue. That overkill type of coverage doesn’t serve the public in a beneficial manner. It merely frightens everyone.
Drawing the Line
Crime is an element of life. No one can dispute that. The intent of the news media should be to inform and educate the public about crime. Sensationalizing a crime story is nothing new. The alarming way in which it is presented has reached an unacceptable level, though. The constant barrage of news stories geared to fear-induced reactions is over-the-top today.
Irresponsible Media Programming
Television networks are the biggest offenders of boosting the fear of crime. There are scores of police and crime based shows airing every day of the week. When we live in a world riddled with crime, why emphasize this terrible condition in a weekly show? On the plus side of that, though, it is encouraging when justice is served at the end of one of these programs.
Take in Less
It doesn’t appear that the media is going to lighten up on pushing crime stories any time soon. People have to learn to tune in just long enough to get educated about a crime story…not swept up in a report or TV show to the point of fear. The media will always embrace the profitable relationship it has with growing the fear of crime.