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By Ian Marsh

Advent : a short background of the media portrayal of crime and criminals -- employing theoretical views at the media to crime -- The media and ethical panics : theories and examples -- The media portrayal of criminals -- The media portrayal of sufferers -- The media and the legal justice approach -- New media know-how and crime : cybercrime -- The media, punishment and public opinion

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Sometimes the object of the panic is quite novel and at other times it is something which has been in existence long enough, but suddenly appears in the limelight. Sometimes the panic passes over and is forgotten, except in folk-lore and collective memory; at other times it has more serious and longlasting repercussions and might produce such changes as those in legal and social policy or even in the way society conceives itself. (Cohen 1972, p. 9) Cohen then points out that there have been recurrent moral panics in post-war Britain over various forms of youth culture whose behaviour is deviant or delinquent – including The Teddy Boys, Mods and Rockers, Hells Angels and Skinheads.

Of course, it is accepted that certain groups have greater access to decision 33 CRIME, JUSTICE AND THE MEDIA and policy makers and that some interests are under-represented (for instance, the interests of less powerful groups, such as unemployed or migrant workers, perhaps). However, governments have to consult and take into account the views of a range of interest groups so as to minimize conflict and because even less-powerful and poorlyrepresented groups can still have a significant impact in terms of voting at elections.

Miliband argues that the content of the media reflects the views of the dominant groups in society – and, specifically, the white, middle class viewpoint – and it is not just news-based content, but also the content of entertainment programmes that are seen as supporting the present social system through portraying it in a basically favourable light. Indeed, popular soap operas and dramas provide enjoyment and even a sense of well being for millions and help to divert attention from and distort our view of the social system through giving the impression that nothing is drastically wrong with the world we live in.

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