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Misinformation, myth and distortion: how the press construct imprisonment in Britain

Mason, Paul John 2007. Misinformation, myth and distortion: how the press construct imprisonment in Britain. Journalism Studies 8 (3) , pp. 481-496. 10.1080/14616700701276240

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Abstract

This paper explores the manner in which prison and prisoners are constructed by the news media and highlights the processes of misinformation and distortion that exist in British crime journalism. These are illustrated through a detailed analysis of four stories which appeared in the British press during October 2005. Using discourse analysis, the paper investigates how these stories construct prisoners as high risk and a danger to society while representing prison as an easy form of punishment. It explores the original official Home Office documents informing the reports, and the sources used by journalists to substantiate their claims. The paper suggests that journalists’ reliance on elite sources heightens the legitimising function of newspapers in supporting the use of prison. It concludes with some broader arguments about the nature of prison reporting and crime journalism, exploring the relationship between print media, public opinion and government policy.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NE Print media
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Uncontrolled Keywords: crime reporting, primary definers, prison, public opinion, sources
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1469-9699
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 22:07
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/4015

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