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Through the Historical looking glass cultural representations & Social processes Soc3029: Media, Crime & Justice.

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Presentation on theme: "Through the Historical looking glass cultural representations & Social processes Soc3029: Media, Crime & Justice."— Presentation transcript:

1 Through the Historical looking glass cultural representations & Social processes Soc3029: Media, Crime & Justice

2 Introduction Contemporary media interest in crime and justice is a modern phenomenon but has origins in the past Structured along two dimensions: Print, sound, visual & new media Advertising, news, entertainment, and infotainment Media evolution Complex cultural mix - oral, literate & visual communication intermingle/coexist since 16thC Blurring between mediated & actual experience

3 Gramsci – Hegemony i.e. dominant ideology Althusser – Interpellation i.e. assimilated self Encoding/Decoding Model - Stuart Hall (1973) Producer Sender Noise Audience Receiver Medium Message EncodedDecoded Feedback & Filters Third Way - A holistic model of communication that suggests an active negotiating audience

4 Early Modern News Oral tradition dominated the past https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UkXf9kckuk 1450 – Western Europe print revolution Early crime literature emerged Tudor to Victorian England Modern vs. Traditional Popular heroes & villians Public spectacles & moral exhortations Features of modern tabloid newspapers began to appear

5 Victorian Era The Pauper/Penny Press Expanded to become the key /major source of media/information in the 19thC/20thC Independent press free from the legal & financial control governments The first medium to generate a mass market Targeted a growing mass of semiliterate urbanites with their human-interest stories Portrayed individual crime as the result of class inequities = structural causes Sensationalism & commodification An early model for contemporary news and modern television programs

6 The brutal murder of New York prostitute Helen Jewett in 1836 Violently slashed to death & her brothel room set on fire a classic ‘who-done-it’ ‘inaugurated a sex-and- death sensationalism in news reporting’ Suitor found not guilty after Jewett’s character was found to be undesirable

7 Jack the Ripper: The most (in)famous Victorian crime (i.e. serial killer) Newspapers highlighted the public’s alarm – sensationalism Speed of communication increased Allowed for the unfolding of a crime story to be developed Effected policy = stricter control over medical profession & welfare reform Blurred the distinction between entertainment & information Continues to excite mass interest

8 Detective and Crime Thrillers The rise of the crime novel – evolved from earlier forms Represents a historical shift from arbitrary punishment to rule of law Linked to the rise of the city Knowing, Integrating and ordering reality – private eyes compliment public eye – surveillance Suggests modern life can be overcome/feared Conan Doyle = Sherlock Holmes stories (1887) Crime & justice becomes an intellectual struggle between two great minds 20thC interwar Golden age = Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers & G. K. Chesterton ordinary policemen stands by in social milieu while extraordinary detectives solve mysteries

9 Hard Boiled Detective Fiction, Magazines and “dime” novels Most popular 19thC US print media Public concern & attack Bleak & cynical Wealth, power & status are key elements in the context of the city The competent, ‘heroic’ & rule bending detective Crime originates from individual personality/moral weakness Reinforce existing social order— the status quo

10 Comic Books First appeared in the 1930s Marketed to both children and adults Socially influential Feature crime-fighters Construct sophisticated images and analyses of crime and justice Public concern & attack Comic books persist as part of the multimedia web

11 Pearson (1983) ‘A History of Respectable Fears’ Historical/critical examination of popular media representation of street crime & delinquency over the last 200 Consistently view criminality in modern society as a new or unique problem A criminal present is always contrasted with a safer past A pre-occupation with violence and lawlessness is part of a long tradition Academic Texts

12 Journals s - Reiner (2003) Both news (factual) & entertainment (fictional) crime stories are prominent in all media These stories overwhelmingly focus on serious violent crime, especially murder Offenders and victims in these stories are of higher status and older than actual offenders and victims The risks of crime are portrayed as more serious than the actual figures on victimisation would indicate The effectiveness of the police and wider criminal justice system tends to be shown in a positive light Stories focus on specific cases and events rather that on general trends or policy issues

13 Radio Dominated as the 1920s/40s home entertainment and information medium Pure audio media Delivering information in a linear fashion akin to print while evoking mental images and emotions analogous to visuals Portrayals of criminality could only be heard, not seen News & crime-fighting programming Influential & omnipresent All aspects of contemporary crime and- justice media that are berated today are traceable to early radio

14 Film Provided the first modern mass/popular media Rapidly came to reflect & shape Western culture Directly reach individuals with information & images Dominant themes have been identified with certain periods Increasingly more punitive Individual responsibility

15 TV Became dominant medium post WW2 Combined characteristics of both film and radio to quickly become the dominant media Audiences embraced television Helped create a new & different society Crime and justice has always been a substantial portion of its programming Crime themes found across all types of programming

16 new digital interactive media Specialised crime & justice products Exemplified by the Internet, electronic games & PDAs Target small homogenous audiences that have a special interest in a narrow type of content Delivery of content is controlled and determined to a much greater degree by the consumer Interactivity Hypothesized criminogenic effects

17 Types of Content Entertainment = escapism? Advertising = big business News = true, current, and objective information about significant world events? Infotainm ent = the marketing of edited, highly formatted information about the world in entertainment media vehicles News magazines and Internet news Web sites Reality-based crime shows Media trials

18 BUT...what about Media/Crime relation as event-making...and where does Justice fit in? A crime occurs...but for 'this' crime to be news-worthy, in some way it has to have significance as: Identifiable Easily reportable i.e. not complex banking and fraud cases which is related to perceptions of target audience – basically are they bright enough to get it? Categorisable against a tariff of significance (for audience) Has extra features which in themselves may not be criminal e.g. sex, the blonde, the accomplice, a dark past...which somehow appears to explain the event such that the audience can say “oh well..stands to Reason...” matching models of the crime-structure/popular explanation Between reporters and audience.

19 BUT...what about Media/Crime relation as event-making...and where does Justice fit in? A crime occurs...but for 'this' crime to be news-worthy, in some way it has to have significance as: Identifiable Easily reportable i.e. not complex banking and fraud cases which is related to perceptions of target audience – basically are they bright enough to get it? Categorisable against a tariff of significance (for audience) Has extra features which in themselves may not be criminal e.g. sex, the blonde, the accomplice, a dark past...which somehow appears to explain the event such that the audience can say “oh well..stands to Reason...” matching models of the crime-structure/popular explanation Between reporters and audience.

20 The need to adapt to lay explanation as key to communicating in an anticipatable way...thus obliging audience to read on And awaiting the next instalment in tomorrow's 'Soar away Sun' And this helps to generate readers = profits Event-alisation as good encoding for; a) exciting/engaging the audience b) as generating hits =new readers/maintaining existing ones (churn rate) c) to keep profits flowing (capitalism – the political-economy approach to media analysis. (Drop the dead Donkey s4, ep 2'.48”; 6'; 7'40”; 11'.23”; 19'40”Drop the dead Donkey s4, ep 7 But 'reported crime event' as a 'bundling of process' – if is a good crime e.g. 'orrible murder with sex and money -the reporting takes time in rel to 'orrible murder with sex establishing the scene and the detection process by police et al. But that can get boring for audience unless new aspects – new events can be 'constructed' – i.e. reporting a lead which is titillating, even better another murder (recent and tragic Alice Gross story were likely suspect had in past and in another (old eastern European country where weirdness must happen – vampires etc) murdered his wife.

21 The wages of Sin – Fatty Arbuckle's last days

22 And the suspect made the story neat by killing himself...which is almost s good as another murder And produces justice in relation to a short news cycle...rather than a long drawn out trial which must be covered but cost in terms of time and journalists Bit if there is a trial – the justice bit – and the case is big enough it may have to be reported rather like a Hollywood court-room drama which of course is a very coded narrative Judge – ponderous/serious even comic e.g. the famous Peter Cook attack on the Judge at the Jeremey Thorpe trialPeter Cook attack prosecution mean and forensic defence- keen and persuasive Jury – shocked by; surprised by, upset by.... And the witnesses and other evidence sources – need for dramatic evidence “on which the trial could well turn...” (think of the twists and turns of the Oscar Pistorius trial) – opens up a structural analysis of diacritical positioning. And of course the verdict as dramatic – “he was sent down for...” But some crimes are iconic: Whitechapel murders; Great Train Robbery 63;Great Train Robbery 63 Yorkshire Ripper; Dennis Neilsen; Moors Murders and make eternal heroes and villains and so becomes a permanent media source on a slow news day.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moors_murders

23 Conclusion Crime & Justice – Mediated Experience Our mass media is an electronic, visually dominated media The current marketing structure of the media is geared toward narrowcasting, or targeting smaller, more homogenous audiences than were previously the focus The media must be understood as a collection of for-profit businesses Media businesses exist within a highly competitive environment The media resides in a nonpaterrnalistic relationship with the government


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