University of Tasmania
whole_BarrPeterJohn2011_thesis.pdf (8.88 MB)

\Youth crime out of control\" : is it reality of media hype? : A Tasmanian perspective on the print media's portrayal of youth crime and Ashley Youth Detention Centre"

Download (8.88 MB)
posted on 2023-05-26, 22:51 authored by Barr, PJ
As an employee at Ashley Youth Detention Centre (AYDC) I have been a keen follower of the Tasmanian media's portrayal of crime generally and youthful offending and AYDC specifically, for 17 years. During that time I have literally read hundreds of Tasmanian media stories relating to youth crime or AYDC and from that had developed the anecdotal view that the Tasmanian print media's reporting of crime, youth crime and AYDC is generally biased. In order to test that hypothesis I reviewed every Tasmanian newsprint article written on youth crime and AYDC during the period July 2007 to June 2009. In all there were 267 articles from the three Tasmanian newspapers. To the best of my knowledge this is the only study of its kind conducted in Tasmania. In examining those articles I formed the view that not only were they inflammatory but they were intentionally so. This begs the question as to why journalists who are meant to report the news without fear or favour, and who are required to work within a code of conduct (Appendix 1) would intentionally be pushing the view that crime is out of control, that it is not safe to walk down the street after dark and generally instil fear into people? To try and make sense of why newspapers would deliberately set out to mislead and in turn frighten their readers and by osmosis the general population we need to understand a little of the history of newspapers particularly in relation to what they believe sells papers. It is also helpful to know who owns the papers and what their motives are in printing them. It is not always about just selling papers and making a profit. Understanding the theories of media influence and ways in which bias can be introduced are important to understanding how public opinion can be formed. There is no doubt the media play a part in forming our views on most things, including crime, and while the reporting is balanced and our views reflect that, all is fine, however, when our views are being skewed by biased reporting we become fearful when we need not. We devalue ourselves and our society by alienating and ostracising people based on what we read in the paper. In fact this can occur for whole sections of the community such as young people, aborigines, people with mental health issues and other marginalised groups. The findings support the original hypothesis that Tasmanian newspapers are biased in their reporting of crime, youth crime and towards AYDC. In relation to reporting crime, youth crime and AYDC Tasmanian newspapers are not only biased by the number of negative articles they print in comparison to balanced articles but they also publish articles that highlight the bad and often omit or diminish any mitigating circumstances. Because articles are inflammatory and biased readers are left more fearful of crime than they need be and young people in particular are seen to be more violent and dangerous than is the case. The research also highlighted the regional view each paper took. This meant that issues took on greater significance based on proximity rather than severity or importance.


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 2011 the author Thesis (MCrimCorr)--University of Tasmania, 2011. Contents: The media's portrayal of crime -- Forms of media bias -- The issues with media reporting -- Discourse analysis -- Tasmanian data

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager