How Distorted View of Reality affects the judgment for gangs

Document Type:Thesis

Subject Area:Criminology

Document 1

Agenda setting is founded on ‘news values’- assumptions and values that guide media personalities in selecting what is newsworthy, and thus what to report on and what to exclude, in addition to the means of presenting such headlines. The society’s distorted view of the reality of gangs has affected efforts by both police and governments to control the problem of gangs. It, therefore, necessitates an intervention by the police, together with the society at large in solving this issue. Historically, the meaning of gangs has exclusively included loosely organized groups of not more than three people through which such formations or establishments share a mutual identity. Nevertheless, in the modern society, the definition gang is taking a different angle given the increasing cases of gang violence.

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(Behrman 2015) asserts that, agenda setting signifies the influence that media has over the matters that the members of the public think about or discuss. This follows that the mass media cannot report to the audience all the criminal or deviant cases that happen. Instead, journalists and media reporters are certainly very selective in filtering the type of crimes that they deem necessary to ignore or report. Equally, if the media chooses to ignore the issue that gangs are responsible for most crimes happening in the community, people will only develop discussions or perceptions about the crime and deviance that the media provides. Therefore, media representations have complete control over the public’s perception about crime-related issues, irrespective of whether these views are real or not.

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Consequently, solving the gang problem requires more than reducing poverty in the society, but rather changing the public’s perception about gangs so that the society at large understands the reality of the situation. The first step to changing the public’s view about gangs is shading more light about the issue to the community through education and creating awareness. This would reduce the influence of media on the society on the grounds of agenda setting because the public would have adequate knowledge about the subject. Richardson (2012) affirms that, media tends to exaggerate the degree of gang-related crimes through exploiting the likelihoods for attractive headlines by sensationalizing; over-reporting and dramatizing certain crimes out of proportion with the intentions of producing the public’s interest and attract an audience.

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Clearly, this shows that the media has a significant influence in impacting a distorted view of the reality about the gang problem. In conclusion, with a prevalence of a distorted view of reality concerning gangs, the majority of longstanding beliefs about gang activities and behaviors need to be reexamined and effective policies to solving the issue must also be adjusted. To some extent, the new realities surrounding gangs bring fresh obstacles to curbing the situation. Nevertheless, as much as the media presents a wrong perspective of gang-related crimes to the public, efforts towards solving the issue remain futile. With no support from the community, law enforcement officers find it hard figuring out critical aspects of gangs, especially identifying individuals who are members of gangs from those who are not.

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