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"Youth crime out of control" : is it reality of media hype? : A Tasmanian perspective on the print media's portrayal of youth crime and Ashley Youth Detention Centre

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Barr, PJ (2011) "Youth crime out of control" : is it reality of media hype? : A Tasmanian perspective on the print media's portrayal of youth crime and Ashley Youth Detention Centre. Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

As an employee at Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYDC) I have been a keen
follower of the Tasmanian media's portrayal of crime generally and youthful
offending and AYDC specifically, for 17 years.
During that time I have literally read hundreds of Tasmanian media stories relating to
youth crime or AYDC and from that had developed the anecdotal view that the
Tasmanian print media's reporting of crime, youth crime and AYDC is generally
biased. In order to test that hypothesis I reviewed every Tasmanian newsprint article
written on youth crime and AYDC during the period July 2007 to June 2009. In all
there were 267 articles from the three Tasmanian newspapers. To the best of my
knowledge this is the only study of its kind conducted in Tasmania.
In examining those articles I formed the view that not only were they inflammatory
but they were intentionally so. This begs the question as to why journalists who are
meant to report the news without fear or favour, and who are required to work within
a code of conduct (Appendix 1) would intentionally be pushing the view that crime is
out of control, that it is not safe to walk down the street after dark and generally instil
fear into people?
To try and make sense of why newspapers would deliberately set out to mislead and
in turn frighten their readers and by osmosis the general population we need to
understand a little of the history of newspapers particularly in relation to what they
believe sells papers. It is also helpful to know who owns the papers and what their
motives are in printing them. It is not always about just selling papers and making a
profit. Understanding the theories of media influence and ways in which bias can be
introduced are important to understanding how public opinion can be formed. There is
no doubt the media play a part in forming our views on most things, including crime,
and while the reporting is balanced and our views reflect that, all is fine, however,
when our views are being skewed by biased reporting we become fearful when we
need not. We devalue ourselves and our society by alienating and ostracising people
based on what we read in the paper. In fact this can occur for whole sections of the
community such as young people, aborigines, people with mental health issues and
other marginalised groups.
The findings support the original hypothesis that Tasmanian newspapers are biased in
their reporting of crime, youth crime and towards AYDC. In relation to reporting
crime, youth crime and AYDC Tasmanian newspapers are not only biased by the
number of negative articles they print in comparison to balanced articles but they also
publish articles that highlight the bad and often omit or diminish any mitigating
circumstances. Because articles are inflammatory and biased readers are left more
fearful of crime than they need be and young people in particular are seen to be more
violent and dangerous than is the case. The research also highlighted the regional
view each paper took. This meant that issues took on greater significance based on
proximity rather than severity or importance.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Keywords: Crime in mass media, Crime and age, Ashley Youth Detention Centre, Youth, Fear of crime
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2011 the Author

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MCrimCorr)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Contents: The media's portrayal of crime -- Forms of media bias -- The issues with media reporting -- Discourse analysis -- Tasmanian data

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:59
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2016 01:17
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