College Of Arts And Sciences | Crime, Mass Media, and Society
E104 | 0094 | Chermak, S.


Crime is among the top concerns of the American public.  Concern and
fear of crime is influenced by many different sources, including the
news media.  Newspapers, television stations, and radios are among
the most influential sources used by the public to develop opinions
about crime and the criminal justice system.  Moreover, the frequent
presentation of crime in entertainment sources increases the
importance of understanding the media images presented to the
public.  Although the images of crime and criminal justice are
important, our understanding of the media as a social control
institution is limited.  This points to the fundamental question
addressed in this course: What role does the mass media play in crime
control?  We will address this question in three ways.  First, we
will examine how media organizations relate to other social control
institutions.  For example, we will consider how news organizations
construct crime stories, and how the reliance on police and court
sources for crime information affects the images presented about
crime.  Second, it will be important to understand the significance
of the media images presented about crime, focusing on how these
images help establish community boundaries.  Third, we will examine
how media images can directly affect how the public thinks about
crime, politicians formulate policy, and criminal justice
professionals dispense justice.  The course will help students
understand the media's place in the social control structure of our
communities.