Media has a strong influence on today’s society and the criminal justice system. Interaction with the media continues to create problems in overcoming the racial disparities in this nation, due to crime that is committed by ethnic minorities in the media increasing racial stereotypes. Media also has a great influence and disadvantages regarding high profile criminal cases, affecting the way Americans view the criminal justice system.
High exposure to the news and entertainment media has been proven it increase fear,which can rise the crime rates in communities. In any case, when turning on the news and looking through the pages of a local newspaper, minorities , mostly African-Americans are the central focus of crime ,creating the portal that blacks are the main source of crime in our nation (see figure 1). The graph below shows the increasing amount of black on black crimes over the years.
A 2007 special report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reveals that approximately 8,000 — and, in certain years, as many as 9,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States .The media has led to racial stereotypes of African-Americans due to the amount of “black on black” crime that is reported everyday. Fig. 1. Homicide victims by race and gender of the victims 1933-2005;Department of Justice Report;2007
More so, informing the public of what occurred instead of solutions to the problem. This issue results to a misunderstanding by the viewer who assumes that the images and facts portrayed are representations of racial groups as a whole, instead of those particular people that are being mentioned.
The media can also influence the law enforcement opinion of blacks, they have been many illegal actions on the basis of an individual race and ethnicity known as racial profiling. In addition,victims who are an ethnic minority are rarely featured on the news, unlike Caucasian victims who claim the spotlight in media entertainment. Such as the murder of Teryvon Martin. As a result, of the media’s false portrayals of crime and offenders has resulted in the continuation of prejudicial beliefs in our country. The main point of this issue is the problem of racial profiling that exists in various communities within our society including the criminal justice system.
However, media coverage or press attention in criminal cases poses its advantages and disadvantages. Publicity can cause unknown witnesses to come forward so that their information may be considered and the facts correctly determined. It can also help to ensure that the person who is charged is being treated fairly by subjecting their decisions to the public. Media coverage can also provide the encouragement for needed changes in the criminal justice system . Media in criminal cases can also have its disadvantages. Publicity may cause some judges or prosecutors, particularly those who must re elected , to act in a manner to help his or her votes rather than in the manner of fairness and justice. The media can also influence the jurors decision.
There are laws that protects a jury from being influenced by media reporting, but there have been situations where criminal cases hear claims that a defendant cannot get a fair trial because of the media. These concerns are taken seriously by judges and also by reporters and editors who can face imprisonment for compromising the legal process. Yet there has been many opinions from lawyers and journalists, that most juries are sophisticated enough to ignore media reports when they are asked to return a verdict.There have been many high profile cases where the media influence the public and exposed themselves in a negative manner , as well as informed the public of the wrongdoing of the criminal justice system. For example, The Treyvon Martin case exposed the worst in the media. Similar to what I stated in the beginning of this paper.
The media rarely broadcast victims that are African-American. It took one month for the Treyvon Martin shooting to air on the news. Another incident that shows the lack of integrity in the media, is the video of George Zimmerman arriving at the police station. After ABC News aired surveillance video of George Zimmerman, entering a police precinct without any apparent injuries, another news program enhanced still images from the video and concluding that it found “what may be an injury to the back of his head.”
The site’s photo “analysis” photoshopped the back of Zimmerman’s head with yellow arrows and stated this it”indicates what appears to be a vertical laceration or scar several inches long.” These statements were lately deemed as false. As, I mentioned above, the media can inform the public of the wrongdoing in the criminal justice system. The Drew Peterson trial allowed hearsay to be presented as evidence in the case,though hearsay is stated as unconstitutional. A change in the law was made in order to use the hearsay against him. The media informed the public of the matter.
The Daily Center is also the same news program that published the 152 pages of Martin’s tweets from a social networking site known as Tweeter. The judge, Debra S. Nelson of Seminole County Circuit Court, said Mr. Martin’s Twitter, Facebook and school records were relevant in the self-defense case. The media influenced the judge to allow the tweets to analyze Martin’s personality , which might have been seen as a typical high school male, focused on girls, sex and getting out of class early, or to be used against him in order to show whether a victim “had an alleged propensity to violence” or aggression, the judge said. Similar to any other teenager his “tweets” focused on ditching school and girls, using them in a criminal case is a bias approach to the situation.
Another show, The Today Show underwent an internal investigation from NBC regarding the editorial process after its morning show aired an edited conversation between George Zimmerman and a 911 dispatcher recorded before the shooting. The investigation came after Fox News and others pointed out that the network joined two parts of the call together, making it appear as if Zimmerman had said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” In reality, Zimmerman was answering a dispatcher’s question: Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about. Dispatcher: OK, and this guy–is he black, white or Hispanic? Zimmerman: He looks black.(02 April 2012)
The actions that the media took influenced the public and the courts and showed the negative aspects of allowing the media to inform the public. This case in particular showed the amount of racism, lack of integrity that exist in media entertainment. The fear of crime can be associated with media exposure. The media in general tends to exaggerate the crime . For example, the crime that you are more likely to see on the news are in relation to gun violence, the same thing can be found on the internet and newspaper. Crime through media is intended to draw the reader in, and interest them. Yet a daily exposure can encourage fear in the viewer. The fear of crime can outweigh the actual risks.
Those who are in fear of crime tend to stay home rather than venture outdoors, this can increase the amount of crime. Signs of incivility in a community rises the crime rate due to “criminals being drawn to communities where they perceive a lack of of social control by local residents”(p.281). Another reason for promoting a certain fear of crime is money. By increasing the idea of violent crime, the dominant culture are more likely to invest in certain protections.
The media lacks integrity due to broadcasting stories that attacks the reputation of African-Americans and other ethnic minorities. They exaggerate stories that can create moral panic and this can also be seen as a way of controlling how the public behaves. Racial profiling is associated with the media due to people seeing mostly blacks committed crimes. Mass media can control the outcome of criminal cases by brainwashing the jurors, controlling the verdict of the case. The relationship between media and crime creates strong influence on the publics view of crime and the criminal justice system, overall having a power influence on both. Works Cited