Rethinking wants to encourage public debate by providing a balanced account of crime and justice in New Zealand.
Rethinking's aim is to:
Reduce media-generated fear by reporting on the 'good news' stories the public rarely get to hear
Provide the public with evidence-based information about the criminal justice system
Encourage public debate about alternatives to the criminal justice 'status quo'
Positively address concerns about public safety
Over-reporting by the Media distorts our perception of crime.
We get most of our information about crime from the media. Their reports play a significant role in our understanding of crime. Unfortunately we don't tend to get a balanced view. For example, inaccurate and selective reporting of crime statistics emphasises rises in crime rather than providing a balanced account.
Even with a steadily declining crime rate, the reporting of crime rose by an average of 20% in New Zealand's daily newspapers between 1992 and 2001. (1) New Zealand research found that about 20% of the main TV news stories were focussed on the subject. Half of all stories dealt with either crime or disasters.
As an experiment, Jeremy Rose of Media Watch compared crime reporting by the New Zealand media with that from the US, Australia, Israel and Spain. Aside from one Australian newspaper, the two New Zealand publications (Stuff and NZ Herald), placed the greatest emphasis on crime and violent deaths.
Choice of commentators is another problem. The media's use of self-styled ‘sensible sentencers’ and the police union (rather than knowledgeable and unbiased experts) increases the negativity of tone. The outcome is to distort our perception of crime - unjustly increasing people's fear about their personal safety and undermining public confidence in those who are responding to it.
The public believe that violent crime accounts for about two-thirds of all reported crime – it's more like nine percent.
In a 2003 Department of Courts survey, all of the people spoken to thought crime was on the increase, when the opposite was the case. Almost without exception, the older the age group, the more likely they were to under-report the level of crime that existed during their own adolescence, and over-report the level of crime and violence existing today. Almost without exception, whatever the age group, people were firm in their belief that crime has steadily increased over the last decade.
(1) McGregor, Judy & Comrie, Margie “What’s News – Reclaiming Journalism in New Zealand”, Dunmore Printing Company, Palmerston North, 2002
The Media and Crime: Key Research
Is crime getting worse? Will getting tough help? What should be done?
G. Maxwell (2008)
Politics and Punitiveness – Overcoming the Criminal Justice Dilemma
K. Workman (2008)
The interpretative resources of Aotearoa New Zealand journalists reporting on Maori
D. Matheson (2007)
Public opinion. In Turning the corner: Beyond incarceration and reoffending
The Young Foundation (2010)
The importance of telling a good story: An experiment in public criminology
M. Feilzer (2009)
Improving public confidence in the criminal justice system
L. Singer & S. Cooper (2009)
Communicating Criminal Justice: Public Confidence, Agency Strategies and Media Narratives
L. Gies & R.C. Mawby (2009)
LINK TO ABSTRACT
Is a conservative just a liberal who has been mugged?: Exploring the origins of punitive views.
A. King & S. Maruna (2009)
LINK TO ABSTRACT
Extremes of otherness: Media images of social exclusion.
C. Greer & Y. Jewkes (2005)
LINK TO EXTRACT
Strategies for changing public attitudes to punishment
D. Indemaur & M. Hough (2002)
Emotions and criminal justice
S. Karstedt (2002)
Affective versus effective justice: Instrumentalism and emotionalism in criminal justice
A. Freiburg (2001)
LINK TO ABSTRACT
Do you know of something that we should include on this page?
Click here to email us