How the Media Uses an Ideal Victim in Portrayals of Crime

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In recent years, the subject of crime has become an increasingly important theme of political, academic, and public debate. In particular, the media today is more focused on victims than it has ever been before. Through media representations of the ‘ideal victim’, this essay will subsequently show how the media are able to construct and re-affirm pre-existing traditional ideologies within the public realm. In effect, this assignment will critically assess the concept of an ‘ideal victim’ and show how the media have used this when describing crime.

In reference to the media’s role, they have been highlighted for playing a part in maintaining these views by portraying victims in a certain way according to the newsworthiness of each story and their selectiveness (Greer, 2007). Furthermore, there has been an increase in both fictional crime programmes and crime documentaries, with Crimewatch particularly becoming a regular part of British viewing. In the modern context, crime has continued to represent a large proportion of news reporting and with the aid of social networking sites and self-publicity via the internet, journalists are now more able to dig even deeper into the lives of people on whom they wish to report. Newspapers continue to keep the public informed with the latest headlines and the internet has also provided opportunities for members of the public to have their input in blogs.

Generally, the study of crime mainly focused on the offender until quite recently. In fact, Shapland et al (1985) described the victim as ‘the forgotten man’ of the criminal justice system and ‘the non-person in the eyes of the professional participants’. A new perspective was brought with victimology, an expanding sub-discipline of crimin...

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Shapland, J et al (1985) Victims and the Criminal Justice System. Alershot: Gower

Smartt, U (2006) Criminal Justice. London: Sage Publications.

Treadwell, J (2006) Criminology. London: Sage Publications

Walklate, S (2005) Criminology: the basics. Oxon: Routledge.

Forty shades of grey (2011) The media and the ideal victim (blog). Available at: Accessed on 31 February 2011.
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