Approaches toward Crime and Media Essay

Approaches toward Crime and Media Essay

The relationship of media and crime is often debated on different forums. The sociologists have also tried to define the interrelationship of media and crime, and their impacts on each other in number of ways. There are three prominent approaches in this regard. ‘Ill effect theory’ of media’s impact on crime speaks about the impact of terror and violence in the media on youth. Moral panic theory focuses on the distortion of reality by the media for its own benefits and postmodern theories are concentrating on cultural differences to define the deviant behavior of the society.

A comparison of three approaches:

All the three theories are basically aimed to address a very basic relationship between media and crime. These can be compared in following aspects:

  1. Focus:

Focus of the ill effect theory is on the communicating power of the media. It believes that all rallied and seen on media is ultimately going to impact the masses especially immature teens. It is imperative.

Moral panic theory, on the other hand, is a broader perspective which speaks about all undesired changes in the society and considers all events threatening the values of establish society as ‘panic’. Drug abuse, slavery and witch hunting in medieval era are often coined as panics. All reported and argued events in media have an impact on the society, howsoever, simple reporting it is. (Thompson, K, 2006)

In postmodern theories of crime and media, the causes of deviance are located in cultural diversity and change. It primarily focus on the pleasures derived out of violence and terror on media, thrill depicted in crime scenes and love for deviance by the character shown.

2- Role of media:

Role of media is differently viewed I n all the three approaches. All impacts are considered bad for the viewers especially youth. All the violence and terror rallied and seen are polluting their minds. Imitative character is prominent for the teens. Moral panic theory, however, confines itself to the projection of those events it considers as panic or against the norms of the established society. According to this approach, all events reported in media have its cost. Moreover, media often uses certain panic condition to their benefit without considering the costs. Moo and rockers culture promoted in 1960’s is quoted as example. (Cohen, S., 1972)Postmodern theories evaluate the role of media as depicter of cultural differences and social changes. People are receiving the information as their perceived notions. One might get the pleasure and go for deviant behavior and the other might not. One picture might be offensive in one culture but not for the other. (Greg Philo and David Miller, 2000)

3- Crime rate:

Is there any direct quid pro quo in media violence and crime rate? This question is differently answered in all the theories. Although, there is a strong criticism on this point,(Rob Reiner,2002), in ill effect proposition, a direct impact on crime rate in the society is envisaged. Similarly, moral panic theory also blames the media for misusing its impact and increase in crime rate in the society. However, in post modern theories this notion is diluted to the fact that it is the receptor whose cultural learning has also a linked factor in order to determine the influence of media on crime rate.


It is evident from the discussion given above, that although all the three approaches are forwarded to define the relationship between media and crime rate, all have derived different impacts and for different reasons to quote.


Cohen, S., 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics, London: MacGibbon and Kee

Greg Philo and David Miller, 2000, Cultural Compliance and Critical Media Studies
viewed on 27th May 2009 <>

Rob Reiner,2002, Oxford Handbook of Criminology, Oxford, London

Thompson, K. in C. Critcher, (2006). Critical readings: Moral Panics in the Media. Berkshire: Open University Press, 2006)

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