Independent Study in Sociology

Chiaki Nakamura, The College of Wooster


This paper is based on assumptions that society is biased toward protection of the juveniles and the elderly, the vulnerable age groups in society. Such cultural ideology or discourse is reflected in the content of the mass media. This case study focused on the crime stories presented in the Washington Post. The increase in the proportion of the elderly in the population around the world, and the newspaper media industry's persistent targeting of younger readers have lead social science researchers to look at the age stereotyping and possible effect to of the distortion of the reality of crime on readers from exposure to the news media. To explore the representation of ages in the media, content of crime stories in the Washington Post from six months of 1996 was analyzed by combining content analysis with respect to age of offenders and victims, and compared with information from the 1996 Uniform Crime Reports and 1996 National crime Victimization Survey to detect any distortion of reality. Finally, the effect of the media on people's fear of crime was examined using 1994 General Social Survey. This study found that the media does distort the reality of crime but no media effect on people's fear of crime with respect to age was found.


© Copyright 1998 Chiaki Nakamura