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Media Crime and Peace


The relationship between the criminal justice system and the media systems and commentary for quite a while. This relationship may be understood in terms of dependency relations operative between thes massive systems. Neither the media nor the criminal justice system could operate effectively without the other. Criminal Justice system is a resource for the media system as it affords one of the common sources of news and entertainment stories. The scout role of the media is to monitor the environment for actual and potential threats to individual and collective welfare also it’s vital to afford a powerful way for the media to attach their audiences. One must update their understanding and ability to orient themselves to the environments in which they act. Media crime stories be it news, entertainment, genre, instruct and update one’s understanding of issues. Commercial media organizations translate this relationship with their audience into the profit that flows from advertisers. Media has a capacity to reach the criminal justice system and all of its attendant, judicial and law enforcement organizations.

Information is a key factor in sustenance of political, economic and social growth. However, it has sometimes been exploited negatively resulting in poor aspects of community governance. The media’s impact on the escalation of crime or even conflict is more widely recognized than its impact on peace building. History has over the years shown that the media can incite the people towards violence.

For the criminal justice system to operate effectively it’s paramount that it has authority that device from people’s willingness to grant its legitimacy, media storytelling can hugely affect this process. Allocation of few resources to the criminal justice system also depends to the criminal justice system also depends upon success in the struggles get “it’s” story positively framed and disseminated widely to media audiences. Macro dependency relations serve as context for examination of specific aspects of media, criminal justice, public attitudes towards specific cases, including the attitudes of potential and actual jurors has been another focus. The right of journalists to protect sources by not disclosing their names has been under scrutiny from time to time.

While focusing on the role of the media in crime and peace,.

This paper seeks to show the relationship between the media and rise in crime, illustrate how the same media can be used proactively to ensure peace especially in the continent of Africa as well as argue that Africa is yet to establish proper control devices in the regulation of the ever expanding media avenue


“Violence is as old as old as human beings. It started as a family affair, according to the Bible; Cain killed his brother Abel. This does not mean, however that violence is a natural way of solving conflicts. Cain has not become a hero in the history of mankind. Quite the contrary. But in the media and entertainment industry of today, violence seems tto be the number one formula for creating a hero and it is no longer a family affair; it is a world-family affair.” (Lund, 1996)

Examining the role of the media in crime and peace basically entails studying the controversies that have emerged around the media and its societal impacts. The role of the mass media in conflicts is often recognized and frequently the media is charged with creating the conflicts.

More often than not the media is charged and accused of “sensationalizing” and blowing “things out of proportion ” or “covering up” and “not paying attention to all sides of a controversy” (Gerald, 1963: Rivers and Schramm, 1969)

The media and rise in crime

In traditional societies children basically were acculturated by studying the behavior patterns of the people their associates who comprised basically members of their immediate families. Communities back then were in clusters of limited villages and therefore it was easier for parents to track the development of their children’s characters and any negative trait was promptly dealt with.

With the rapid growth of mass media however, the “resource centers” from which children pick up character have been multiplied tremendously. Young children everywhere are fast becoming heavy-TV viewers.

Social conflict is a central component in community life as well as social change and the media cannot be blamed for using it as the principal material for the content it sells out there. The question is therefore the extent to which media resources contribute to the development and control of conflict and the way they help shape the public’s definition of the issue.

Studies show that exposure to heavy doses of television violence increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior, particularly in boys. Boys tend to identify with the male characters who are strong and aggressive while girls tend to identify with the victims.

Television tends to present violence in unrealistic, misleading and sometimes glorified ways. Fictional programming often presents violence as all persuasive, legitimate and effective.

Whenever you turn on your television you are immediately confronted with aggression. The major weak assumption that the media providers have is that young children can distinguish between reality and fiction. Young viewers can be drawn into the fantasy that violence has no consequence. Even news programs and documentaries can distort violence, selectively exaggerating and sensationalizing events.

Movies, drama and other programs with violent themes that have flooded our televisions have had a negative impact on character formation of our youth with most ending as delinquents. It then isn’t strange that commando-like crimes are being executed in our estates and on the streets with military precision courtesy or the lessons taken from the block busters.

Radio as an aspect of the media has also been linked to major aggression the world over. Radio actually as opposed to television has a direct involvement in crime as a consequent of incitement remarks over the air. For example, Rwanda’s radio RTLM called its audience in 1994 to pick up machetes and take to the streets to kill what they called “the cockroaches” in what ended up to be the biggest genocide incidence in the African continent and the world as well.

Closer home, local fm stations incited communities to rise against each other in the run p to the December 2007 general elections. On the other hand, mainstream television stations took hard-line stances in the politics of the day. This Balkanized the country and played a major role in escalating the post election violence that ensued.

It is a sad fact that as far as the media business is concerned, the only rule that applies is the law of the market in that in that what makes profit is what is produced and distributed.

Practically all sectors of the media have been marred with allegations of encouraging violence, even the print media.
Cohen, S.(1975 concludes that crime stories are directed to a group of people. Such people may be victims, criminals or the decision makers. He goes ahead to suggest that crime stories attract readers due to use of banner headlines and photographs especially in the first section of the newspaper. He concludes that doing so is tantamount to promoting criminal behavior.

Supporters of Cohen’s views include Payne, David E. and Kay P.P (1970) who conclude that in 1970 people in Detroit, U.S.A commited crime to gain publicity. This was illustrated by Kimbali who had earlier found out that commitment of crime had gone down whenever there was a newspaper strike.

Of even greater importance is the issue of interpretation of crime stories. There those who will take those stories at literal level and others who will take them metaphorically, depending on one’s social and educational background.

What reaction is expected from the audience? This question is significant because of the awareness that arises after reading about crime. Could it be that reporters in the media are setting an agenda by their insistence on crime stories?

In their paper “crime coverage in print media”, Mundara J.N and Kassanani have quoted Regina Ingolo, a probation officer who thought that coverage of the crime had nothing to do without coverage of the crime commitment. Her argument that most of the criminals she interacted with were semi-illiterate or too poor to afford a newspaper.

The internet media albeit unintentionally has aided organization and coordination of criminal activities and terrorism around the globe. The swift organization and coordination of the Al Qaeda activities across the world attests to this. What with a network that connects terrorist cells from the valleys of the Afghan mountains to the suburbs of Washington D.C and all other major cities of the world to the ones in the streets of Somalia and the caves of Malindi. This lot has only relied on their experience and training in terrorist warfare it has benefited a great deal from the modern information and communication technologies in the aspects of organization ant coordination.

Back in Kenya, the new and emerging media (internet, mobile phones) aided the planning and execution of what has now come to be simply referred as the post-election violence. It was via phone calls, short cell phone messages (sms) and the internet gangs that terrorized in the Rift valley were remotely organized and coordinated by their political masters in the height of the violence. It is also possible that the money that was paid out to these gangs could have been transferred b the Safaricom’s, M-Pesa, money transfer program.

Mobile phones and the internet have also aided criminals to avoid apprehension. The Mungiki and other terror gangs have been able to attack swiftly and precisely. Police roadblocks are almost losing meaning courtesy of the efficiency in communication as accorded by the mobile phones.

Effect of media violence

1. Desensitization effect

Over time repeated exposure to media violence leads to perception of any act of violence being viewed as be less shocking and less severe than it actually is.

2. The fear effect.

Heavy viewers of media and television violence begin to identify with the victims and view the world as a much scarier place.

3. The Aggressor Effect

This is especially among growing boys who want to relate with the tough and aggressive hero characters they see from films .

Press releases
One way through which public relations practitioners, organizations and individuals achieve their objectives by way of issuing press releases are supposed to promote positive relations between organizations, leaders and the public(Dr. L.Odhiambo,1998)

Press releases can be used positively to warn the public of impending problems. This will ensure that the public responds proactively in taking measures that will safeguard their own goodwill.

Press releases can also be used to explain why governments took certain measures or made some changes in their usual activities. This helps in development of better mutual relations between the government and the general public.

However, in Africa press releases have come to be regarded as methods of damage of damage control in that government statements are only made in reaction to a perceived failure of the government. In most cases, they actually come out as refutatins and denial \s mote than anything else.

“many of those who issue press releasees appear like people who wait until their homes catch fire before they try to save the structures even when there was earlierindications of firre building up”(Odhiambo,Chemjor;1998)

These releases are always based on useless even hollow facts and in most circumstances the issuer(government spokesman)tends to cover up the truth by trying to elaborately present minor gains that have been made.

Also as a cover up, most of the African governments tend to lay legal threats o perceived enemies of the state who mostly tend to be nothing more than critics. These vain attempts at hiding the trg\uth obviously have a major counter productive effect as the public tends to alienate the government after reading the insincerity in the press releases.

Steps that can help reduce crime instigated by the media

1.Self regulation-In April 1994, international television managers attended a roundtable on non-violence. Unanimous recommendations were made in the establishment of regulatory frameworks among the private and public broadcasters.

2.limiting commercial pressures.
Maintenance of proper social and artistic standards should be ensured if screen violence is to be curbed. Public broadcasting needs strengthening financially and techinically to improve national home-grown program output and providing viewers and listeners with a wider range of quality choices

3. media education

The public under most circumstances has the option window when it comes to choosing what to read, listen to or watch. An educated citizenr can do much to reduce screen violence within a democratic society..childre should be educated in the framework of the beliefs of their parents until the age of emancipation. Parents should ensure dialogue with their children about programmes they can watch. Theis will help develop in the children a critical capacity towards the television and most recently the internet so that they don’t become passive spectators.


The belief that there would be mighty peace if the rapidly growing Information Communication Technology (ICT) and media were embraced fully is not far fetched.

Convergence of these two industries and their deployment in war torn areas indicate hope of mediating not only for fragile but a permanent peace deal.

This part of the paper refuses to walk the academic path but chooses to reside in the home of reality in exploring the role of media in building a peaceful world.

. Peacemakers, scholars, and keen observers have rendered a legion of definitions and those yearning for peace; the likes of Democratic Republic of Congo, residents of Darfur, and The ugly scenes in Iraq and Afghanistan are just few but many of the examples this section of the paper will work with. Peace is a state of harmony, freedom from war or violence depicted by respect, justice and goodwill and friendship.

Borrowing examples from current events around the world we shall demonstrate how the media has greatly contributed to the establishing and maintenance of peace systems.

Starting with the mobile and computer technologies that have taken the world by storm. The former has opened up communications in the regions that used to have a fixed line. This has brought warring factions together. Taking communications to these nations struggling to overcome civil wars, coups, and variety of natural disasters. Negotiations have been championed just through mobile telephony. Peacemakers can now just write short-messages to warring sides where it could have been impossible to bring the two sides at a roundtable for talks. This was clealy evident in the recent violence that marred the country at the beginning of the year 2008. At some point groups targeting human interest and rights sent around text messages calling for promotion of peace.

Internet services have now been devised where warring sides can easily hold online video conferencing without necessarily having to converge at one place, which is costly and sometimes risky. This has enabled linking of the warring sides hence expanding access to communication to increase mediation and transform the hostile sides, instilling understanding and fair justice, as the two sides have a chance to listen to each other.

. Television and radio for instance have been used to champion peace talks through organising peace talk shows trying to disseminate to people the real issues to foster peace restoration in highly volatile regions like Darfur, Iraq and Afghanistan. The government for example may use the various elements of media in relaying the messages of peace to the warring communities. Media houses on the other hand set aside airtime for special programmes to orchestrate peace. Reaching peace message to a large populace since Radio and TV commands a wider audience.

Media’s extensive coverage of youths activities gives it an agenda like in Kenya the Tegla Lourope’s events branded ‘running for peace’ is given wide coverage hence many youths are attracted to participate making them busy hence conceptualising the need for peace. Organising youth’s forums and musical shows like in low settlement areas and opening up community based programmes run by young people where they raise their problems and solutions projected this eliminates violence as issues. As problems and their solutions are identified and solved before they grow out of hand.

Media for long acts as a link to all other sectors hence called the 4th estate from Executive, Judiciary, and the Legislative. It explains all about these arms of government where the 4th estate plays an integral role. Media enhances cohesive implementations of laws and order. It is also passes on the issues and articulating them to the people. This upholds understanding.

The media has of late enabled quick actions in conflict resolutions as everyone is brought to attention about the conflict. Going by the post-election violence were it not for the media we may be still burning. Thanks for the media for blowing up the whole truth to the world that brought Koffi Anan to our rescue. This elsewhere enables quick deployment of soldiers to war torn zones like the Darfur and Iraq case. This helps tone down the impact of attacks before they grow out of proportions. Impartial reporting by media enables eliminates prejudice between the warring sides and the need for peace is instilled and pursued. The Al-Jazeera coverage of the Middle East has promoted coetaneous communication between peacekeepers and the warring factions. Here Al-Jazeera acts as an agent of conflict resolution.

The media acts as a watchdog in society. It voices poverty, economic imbalance, corruption, nepotism, and favourism, lack of amenities key causes of instability that mostly ends up fuelling insurgency. As an agent for peace, media voices the people’s aspirations and grievances making perpetrators of ills and warmongers to come round to people’s cries without necessarily getting up in arms. This has brought together the people and the ruling elites even where conflicts have ensued. The trust and confidences injected in the systems ensures sincerity, openness and transparency a channel through which negotiations for peace and what should be done are initiated and pursued.

Media has a collective responsibility of promoting cultural diversity and exchange. This leads to appreciation of others’ cultures and identifying the need for mutual co-existence between cultures. This has strengthened social ties taming prejudices across communities.

Peace is not a luxury but a need for the people. So the media should be used as a conflict resolution agent not as a source of atrocity and for fanning wars. The Rwandan (1994 Genocide) case is still fresh in our minds and the alleged vernacular fm radio stations during the post election violence at the start of the year. The Hutus and Tutsi’s news was commentated as a football match and see what happened-thousands were killed in Rwanda. The Kenyan case is not different the vernacular fm stations hosted shows and call in forums that encouraged ethnicity-where some tribes were perceived to be the best while the others termed thieves who should not stay in our midst. See what happened! Thousands lost lives while many were uprooted from their homes. Dissemination of events in such scenarios should not be done as our TV football commentator does; this pits the sides against each other. The media should not mention the winning side or the losing one in war this might score points and fuel the conflict further. As a third party media and ICT should brighten the prospects of resolutions but not act as reasons for deadlocks. They should be able to bring the conflicting parties to negotiation table. They should be able to talk and soften stands of hardliners and make them willing to end stalemates. The convergence of these industries and their deployment in war torn zones should indicate hope not only for a fragile peace deal but also for a lasting one. They should act as bridge for settling, arbitrating, mediating, and reconciling, bargaining, negotiating, peacekeeping and peacemaking tools to contain reduce and finally solve conflicts for stability to prevail.

the roless and expectations of the media in building a peaceful world cannot be underestimated. Everything boils down to softening and cooling down the war heated environments. Their main objective collectively being to grease the conflicting sides.

Peace has remained across cutting issue in the world but can only be achieved by embracing ICT and media to the fullest.