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CJS4396 Media & Crime

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Professor Loucks Office Hours: T & R 2:00-3:00, or by appointment Phone: 972-883-4769 E-mail: Office: GR2.116 If it bleeds, it leads. In a society characterized by an ever increasing media presence, this adage has perhaps never been more accurate. The purpose of this course is to examine how the media portrays violence and crime, influences crime policy, and impacts public perceptions of crime and victimization. The course will be organized into three sections. In the first section, we will examine how news media (television and print) constructs crime and criminals. The second portion of the course will focus on the portrayal of crime and violence in television dramas and film. In the final section, we will explore the media as a cause, consequence and cure for crime. In short, this course will provide you with an indepth look at the complex relationship between the media, the public and crime. Required Reading: There are two required books for this course, as well as a collection of articles that are available for downloading or printing on webCT. The first book is: Rafter, Nicole. 2002. Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society. Oxford University Press. The second is: Surette, Ray. 1998. 2nd Edition. Media, Crime and Criminal Justice: Images and Realities. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. In the syllabus, the books are denoted by SIM (Shots in the Mirror), MCCJ (Media, Crime and Criminal Justice) respectively. Any other articles assigned include the author and the title and can be found on webCT by clicking on the readings link.


Course Requirements: (1) Discussion postings on webCT are a key component of the course. The instructions for each week are listed on webCT. This is an open forum, but please be respectful toward others. You must complete a total of 10 postings during the semester. If you post a certain week, then the following week you must respond to another person’s post, as opposed to starting your own. Posts and responses need not be long; a paragraph (4-6 sentences) is sufficient. These are opinion based, so there are no “wrong” answers. I just ask that your comments are thought- provoking and honest. (2) Class discussions are also central to this course. You will be expected to attend class, as some of the material presented in class discussion is not contained in the readings for the course. You should complete the assigned readings prior to the class period and demonstrate knowledge of the concepts presented in those readings during the class period. The expectation is that you will contribute t class discussions in a respectful and non-disruptive way. In addition, a number of in o class activities will be given throughout the semester and these will contribute to or detract from your attendance and participation grade. You CANNOT make up in class assignments. No grades are assigned for in class activities. However, you must complete them in order to obtain the full points for participation. (3) You will also be required to complete 5 of the 6 listed assignments. Each assignment is worth 20 points (for a total of 100 points). Assignments will involve different activities, but m ost will require you to access some sort of media outlet and analyze this in conjunction with the readings assigned for that day. Assignments should be one single spaced page (1” margins, 12 point font or smaller). All assignments must be typed or they will be returned with a grade of 0. (4) There will be three papers during the semester. The papers will be approximately 5 double spaced pages. The questions for the papers will be handed out in class one week before the paper due date. Grading Procedures: Final grades for this course will be based on three papers, five assignments, discussion postings and your attendance/participation. The point totals that correspond to each letter grade are listed here so that during the semester you can calculate your grade. Finally, late assignments, papers, and postings will be docked one letter grade for each day they are late. Grading Scale: A 460-500 A448-459 B+ 433-447 B 418-432 B398-417 C+ 388-397 C 373-387 C348-372 D 298-347 F 297 ? Points: Paper 1 Paper 2 Paper 3 Assignments Discussion Postings Partic/Attend. Total

100 100 100 100 50 50 500


Course Timetable: Thursday, August 18th Tuesday, August 23rd Introduction to the course Overview: Media and the Construction of Crime Read: MCCJ Chapter 1 Crime and Justice in the News Read: Glassner’s “Narrative Techniques of Fear Mongering” & Rawlinson’s “Mafia, Media and Myth…” Crime and Justice in the News Read: MCCJ Chapter 3 Due: Assignment 1 Reality TV as News Read: Cavender’s “Fear and Loathing in Reality Television” Corrections and the News Media Read: Welch et al’s “All the news that's fit to print” News Media in the Courtroom Read: Gardner’s “Cameras in the courtroom: guidelines for state criminal trials” Due: Assignment 2 The Court of Public Opinion Read: MCCJ Chapter 4 Representations of Police in the News Media Read: Jefferis et al’s “The effect of videotaped arrest on public perceptions of police use of force Representations of Police in the News Media Read: No Reading Due: Paper #1 History of Crime Films Read: SIM Pages 15-45 Representations of Police in Film and Television Drama Read: SIM Pages 71-90 Representations of Police in Film and Television Drama Read: Eschholz et al’s “Images of Primetime Justice” Due: Assignment 3

Thursday, August 25th

Tuesday, August 30th

Thursday, September 1st

Tuesday, September 6 th

Thursday, September 8th

Tuesday, September 13th

Thursday, September 15th

Tuesday, September 20th

Thursday, September 22nd

Tuesday, September 27th

Thursday, September 29 th


Tuesday, October 4th

Courtroom Films & Television Dramas Read: SIM Pages 93-113 Courtroom Films & Television Dramas Read: Greenfield’s “Hero or Villain?” & Kuzina’s “The Social Issue Courtroom Drama as an Expression of American Popular Culture” Prison and Execution Films Read: SIM Pages 117-140 Prison and Execution Films Read: O’Sullivan’s “Representations of Prison in Nineties Hollywood Cinema” Due: Assignment 4 Heroes in Crime Film Read: SIM Pages 141-164 Heroes in Crime Television: CSI’s, Mafioso, and Crime Fighting Medical Examiners? Read : &

Thursday, October 6 th

Tuesday, October 11th

Thursday, October 13 th

Tuesday, October 18th

Thursday, October 20th

Tuesday, October 25th

The Future of Crime Film Read: SIM Pages 165-179 Due: Assignment 5 The Horror Genre: A Different Animal Read: Nolan and Ryan’s “Fear and Loathing at the Cineplex” The Horror Genre Read: No Reading Due: Paper #2 The Changing Relationship between the Media, Crime, & Public Read: Ditton et al “From Imitation to Intimidation” Media as a Cause of Crime Read: MCCJ Chapter 5 Media as a Cause of Crime Read: Huesmann et al’s “Longitudinal Relations between Children’s Exposure to TV Violence…” Due: Assignment 6

Thursday, October 27th

Tuesday, November 1st

Thursday, November 3 rd

Tuesday, November 8th

Thursday, November 10 th


Tuesday, November 15th

Media as a Cure for Crime Read: MCCJ Chapter 6 Media as a Catalyst for Changing Opinions Read: MCCJ Chapter 7 Crime, Criminology and the Media: What now? Read: No Reading Due: Paper #3 No Class- Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 17 th

Tuesday, November 22nd

Thursday, November 24th

Assignments: (1) Due August 30th, 2005 The Devil is in the Details: Select a current crime news event. Using the concepts from MCCJ chapter 3, discuss the content of the story, the reporting style, the basis for its newsworthiness and how it constructs the crime event as a social problem. Does it reflect one of the four major criticisms of crime news? How so/not? Is it proactive or reactive? (2) Due September 8th, 2005 Order in the Court?: The presence of news media in the courtroom is a relatively new innovation. What impact has it had on: (1) how justice is served (2) public opinion (3) the notion of a fair trial? Use examples of highly publicized cases to support your answers. (3) Due September 29th, 2005 Cops, Pigs, and 5-O: How have attitudes toward police changed as a result of television programming and feature films? Analyze one television program or film that focuses on police or policing. What view does it portray of police? How would you describe the main characters? What stereotypes does the program or film utilize? Is it an accurate portrayal? (4) Due October 13 th, 2005 Is prison really that bad?: Answer this question using evidence from your readings as well as one example from television or film. In your answer, include a discussion of daily life in a prison. (5) Due October 25th, 2005 We’ve seen it all: If this is true, where does crime film go from here. Speculate on the future of crime and criminals in popular film. Rely on SIM for background, but provide your own perspective. (6) Due November 10 th, 2005 Cartoons, Slasher films, Crime News: Media as a Cause of Violence. Provide one example of a crime in which media was blamed for the actions of an individual or group. Explain whether/ how the attribution of blame to the media was justified. Does the media really cause violence? Defend your answer using evidence from class materials. * I reserve the right to make changes to the syllabus *