May 7, 2005
Crime and the Media
The public depends on the news media for its understanding of crime. Reportedly three quarters (76%) of the public say, they form their opinions about crime from what they see or read in the news (Dorfman & Schiraldi, 2001). After reviewing five hours of reality crime television shows, one is left with a very dismal look on society and a prejudice towards minorities as they are largely depicted as the perpetrators of crime. This new genre commonly referred to as reality television appears to be sweeping the nation by storm. Opinions vary, depending on whom you ask, to what extent reality plays a role versus the selling of a product. Sensationalism, advertising, ratings hype, profiling and fear all comprise the mass medias' marketing strategy to America. Sadly, what we see portrayed by television shows such as "COPS" have contributed largely and in some cases unjustly to the prejudices that are present today. The predominant races of the suspects portrayed in the episodes of COPS were African Americans (Langley, 2005). The predominant genders of the suspects were male. However, the May 5, 2005, episode of COPS featured an exclusive on COPS: Bad Girls (Langley, 2005). Combining the special episode with the four and a half hours of regular viewing of COPS the numbers still reflect the predominance of suspects featured are African American males (Langley, 2005). In two cases out of the nineteen viewed, the suspects were Caucasian, and the reason for the stop was expired tags. This stop was handled much differently than the previous stop. The officers were not aggressive when they approached the car, and the incident proceeded in a civilized manner. Ironically, in the scene prior to the present, the officers had observed an African American suspect in a drug area with expired tags, and the encounter was very different. A car chase ensued, an ultimate...