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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

One might ask this question about the media and violence.

Does the crime come first, and then the media coverage, or does the media coverage cause the violence?

Perhaps it is both.

For example, a serious violent crime happens. This generates enormous media coverage. This motivates copy-cats to commit future crimes.

One dominant argument in the media, ironically, is that the media promote violent crime. Stories are often housed in this context. It's called the "violent media frame."

here's a good summary of the argument:


  1. As I was reading this story, I could not help but think "Is it the fact that they are mentioning the crime/violence, or is it the amount of detail and emphasis that they are putting on it"? In our reading, it talked about how the media and the government work together in order to watch each other's backs. Media hide the wrong-doing of the government behind stories of violence and death, and the government in return gives the media a heads up on any big stories coming in and a deeper insight into sensitive material. Would the media have such a field day with crime and violence if they only thing they knew was that a robbery happened, or that someone died? It is when that person who was murdered turns into a white, pretty, young girl,who was killed by black man or a crazy man- that it becomes headlines.
    I'm not trying to say that this is all the governments fault. I am just saying that maybe if there were more discretion used on the part of everybody involved, shootings may not continue to happen, copycats may not get all the details of a crime, violence may not be as prevalent as it is today.

  2. You mean companies not government, right? The government does not control the media, the corporations that own them do.

  3. Honestly, as much as I dislike the sensationalize of crime in the media, I feel they are rarely solely at fault. Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that there are some crimes committed with an eye towards the media, but I think they are the exceptions rather than the rule. Violence has been intertwined with humanity for as far back as historical and fossil records exist. Even more importantly, despite the increasing coverage, it appears violent crimes are down rather than up.

    Looking backwards can give some demonstration to the absolute worst that humanity has to offer; H.H. Holmes, 30's era mobsters, slavery, etc. are just a few easy examples. I doubt that media attention was the driving force behind any of those, yet they existed.

    I honestly don't have an answer for why our country is far more (or less) violent than others, and I won't say that media plays no role in maybe how violence plays out, but I don't believe it is the root cause.

  4. Bekki we will look at this issue in class soon.