Government Statistics and Media Representations of Crime


Government Statistics and Media Representations of Crime
Assignment Description and Guidelines

Part A. Internet & Library Research (1-2 double-spaced pages, 2 cm margins on all sides, 12 pt Times New Roman Font)

Using the Internet and/or other sources available through the UTM library, what do official statistics tell us about crime, and crime rates, in Canada? Has crime been increasing or decreasing, and over what time period? What is the crime severity index, and what information does it add to our knowledge of crime rates? Which crimes are the most common? What does the “typical” offender look like?

Your answers to these questions should be organized into thematic paragraphs (do not just answer the questions in order; organize your response logically).

Keep the following in mind while completing this portion of the assignment:
? Use proper citations to indicate where your information comes from.
? Carefully evaluate the source of information; not all Internet sources are equally reliable. Select more reliable sources when possible, and always be critical of (and explain in your writing) where the information is coming from and any potential biases and inaccuracies.
? To be clear, most or all of your information for Part A should come from government (‘official’) sources. Here is one such example to help get you started:

Part B. Media Representations of Crime

For this part of the assignment, choose one media type for observation.
–Newspapers: Observe the same paper for 4 or 5 different days.
–TV news: Observe 5 separate broadcasts on 4 or 5 different days.

NOTE: Keep in mind that you are not starting with a random sample of the media. As a result, your findings may not be representative of the overall portrayal of crime in the media. Why is this the case? In what ways might your picture be biased?

B1. Findings. (1-2 double-spaced pages. You may include tables and graphs, as you deem useful.)
For your media source, report the:
–Percentage of stories dealing with crime
–Proportions of the types of crimes presented: violent vs. nonviolent; street vs. white-collar, and so on
–Characteristics of those involved (e.g., age, gender, race, and social class) for both the offender and the victim
– Tone or tenor of the coverage, in general

B2. Analysis (1-2 double-spaced pages)
In your analysis, discuss your findings from B1 in light of Part A, as well as themes and issues raised in the readings assigned for 24 January. In addition, you may find useful the following reading:

? Yasmin Jiwani. “Mediations of Race and Crime: Racializing Crime, Criminalizing Race.” In Barbara Perry (ed.), Diversity, Crime, and Justice in Canada. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (A copy will be posted on Blackboard)

Here are some probes to get you thinking. But note that ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ papers will go well beyond these, including analyzing your media source in light of issues raised in the readings but not listed here:

? Does the media present an ‘accurate’ picture of the overall crime rate? Accurate according to whom?
? Does the media tend to focus on a particular type of crime? If so, why do you think this is the case? Remember to support your arguments using the readings (and additional sources, if you think it helps).
? What are the possible implications of media misrepresentations of crime in society?
o What are the implications of misrepresentations for the types of policies developed to combat crime in society?

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