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Law-and-Order News - An Analysis of Crime Reporting in the British Press

NCJ Number
S Chibnall
Date Published
298 pages
This British study of the media's crime reporting traces the history of crime reporting, and discusses the news values and political ideology of the media, the changing relationship between police and other social control agencies, and the difference between free-world and Marxist-controlled media.
The book begins by exploring in general terms, the relationship between the political ideology of newspapers and the professional news values of their journalists. The two are viewed as close enough to constitute mutually dependent parts of a single ideological system. Next, the development of crime reporting as a specialist field of journalism is traced. The study identifies the changing concerns of crime journalism, relating them to changing crime patterns in postwar Britain, and examines the part played by sensationalism and 'checkbook journalism' in crime reporting style. An analysis of law-and-order news from 1965 to 1975 shows that journalism was organized around the idea of society's being violent. Discussion also covers the ways in which deviance and criminality were interpreted and classified by the press at that time. Next, the symbiotic relationship between crime reporters and police sources is examined. Another chapter draws out further implications of employing social control agencies as primary sources of news by examining the goals and techniques of news management by the police in Britain and the army in Ulster, Northern Ireland. Finally, the deficiencies of Marxist mass communication ideas, in which the media simply support a dominant ideology, are examined. An index, tables, notes, a chronology of law-and-order news from 1945 to 1975, and about 170 references are included. (Modified author abstract)


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