What Makes Crime Newsworthy?
We are seeing an increase in public engagement with true crime, but why is that? What makes crime so interesting?
OJ. Bundy. Nilsen.
The names of criminals I have spent countless hours learning about. When I ask myself the question ‘what makes crime newsworthy?’ a number of things come to mind.
First and foremost, I consider whether it is bad to say that one of my favourite things to watch is crime documentaries but then I am reminded of how much of it is out there…
Tv shows (Non-Fiction):
· 24 hours in police custody
· Conversations with a killer
· The People v O.J. Simpson
· White house farm
Tv shows (Fiction):
· Criminal Minds
· The Fall
· Dead Water Fell
· Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
· The Trials of Gabriel Fernández
· American Murder Next Door
· Amanda Knox
· Abducted in Plain Sight
Just to name a few!
When it comes to entertainment, crime has its own genre. Due to this as journalists report on criminal activity there is a general understanding that this is a great way to draw readers in.
For a crime reporter to know that there is already a population of people who unwind to crime documentaries –as reported by BBC (Canada)- is an invaluable piece of information in terms of understanding their readership/audience.
However, in light of this article it seems that there are growing concerns about the risk of viewers become desensitised to crime and an argument to suggest that perhaps we just see them as stories. When it comes to reporting true crime in local areas or covering the crimes that shock the nation its guaranteed success for the news outlet who gets there first.
So, what does make crime newsworthy?
Perhaps it’s just appeals to our humanity, we feel for those involved: the victims and their families.
Maybe it has a great deal to do with just how often it is highlighted for entertainment purposes but also the frequency of which it is reported.
In short, it is worth considering that crime is newsworthy simply because it happens. It is a show of abandoning social constructs and betraying all we are raised to know about law, ethics and harm. It is the ultimate sense of chaos and disruption.
The offender and their acts are bad news ergo it is newsworthy.
Katz 1987 — Media, Culture and Society.
“The reading of crime news is a collective, ritual experience . Read daily by a large portion of the population, crime news generates emotional experiences-” — Katz (discussing Durkheim’s ideas.
Crime news, according to Katz, serves opportunities for the reader to shape up their moral attitudes upon many other things.
After reading the research, I designed an Instagram story to depict the true crime readers appetite; in short what we look for in crime journalism therefore outlining what makes it newsworthy.