Crime in Media Responses

Please compose a 150 word response for each of the two writings below. You are not to be critical of the writer. Address the writer in first person as you would actually be responding to them and discuss what you liked about their writing and what content you agree with. Also, discuss what theoretical issues you agree with.

Writing #1: The focus of my research papers was on mass murders and the media’s interpretation, reaction, and response to those mass murders. For my first paper, I researched the Stoneman Douglas Shooter. For the second, the Aurora, Colorado shooter. I found that both media reactions to the events were different, but their response to the situations was reasonably similar. In the Stoneman Douglas situation, the media portrayed the game as something that was bound to happen. In the Aurora, Colorado situation, it came as a shock to people. When it came to both cases, the media immediately relied on dominant ideology to navigate and persuade the public to follow their narrative. Media outlets focused on negative keywords and unflattering imagery to paint the assailants as guilty before their trial and trial verdict. In the Stoneman Douglas case, the media also used agenda setting. The news outlets attempted to paint all gun owners as evil due to their selection of weapons.

I found that in both cases, the individuals had some form of mental health. While the media did report on the mental health situation, it feels like the media quickly covered that up by rereporting the victims and their accounts of the case. It seems that they did not want either of these individuals to gain sympathy for their mental health issues. In both of these cases, the individuals also accepted and confessed to committing the crime but attempted to claim not guilty due to insanity. For me, it seems like a colossal time-waster due to their claims. During both cases, they were both found sane of mind. In my opinion, at this point, the case should have just ended, and a verdict is made.

I also found that the media is quick to find a story that includes someone painted as the villain in the story, regardless of the individual’s situation or circumstances. For example, in the Stoneman Douglas case, the individual used a firearm that millions of other Americans own. Because of the media’s portrayal of the shooter and the weapon used, people concluded other gun owners. Owners were painted evil, just like the shooter (Asmar, 2019) (Michelle Mark, 2019).

Writing #2: My research paper followed the case of the Menendez brothers who murdered their parents back in 1989. They went out for the evening and came back to shoot their parents Jose and Kitty Menendez until they were dead. In the beginning, the case was not that popular because they thought the killings were done by gang members. It gained popularity in the media when the sons of the victims were arrested for the killings. The family had been wealthy and Jose, the father of the brothers was a self made millionaire who was known to be extremely demanding. The boys were trouble makers getting into petty burglarys and plagiarism but the father was always able to cover it up. After some time had passed Erik told is therapist about the killings. Eventually the lover of the therapist told the police about the confession and the boys were arrested. They awaited their trial in jail for three years in the same facility as O.J Simpson. The boys before their 3 year jail time were smug and obnoxious only to come back three years later playing the victim role of sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of the parents. The first trial was deadlocked and the second trial led to life without the possibility of parole for each of the two murdered parents.

The crime in media theory that best applies to this crime was the Strain theory. This is based on their relationship with their father and past criminal history. It was evident that the boys could not live up to the expectations of Jose. This is similar to the strain theory that suggests the idea of the American Dream. The American Dream is this idea of success and the media promotes such success but not how to receive it. The boys could not receive such success so they did things like steal and plagiarize. This need to be successful may have been what ultimately led them to do the killings. Erik told his therapist they were scared they were going to get disinherited. After the killings the boys did receive a good chunk of money and they both went on a spending spree. Other things such as the increase in labor markets may have made it hard for the boys to afford to get out on their own and away from their strict parents. All of these things lead to the idea that strain was evident in describing this case.

Other reflections I had regarding this case was definitely the medias involvement. There was so much media involvement that the Muraskin text even described it as the case where they finally had to realize the impact the media had on case outcomes. By the end of my research I still wasn’t sure whether I thought the boys were abused or not.There were so many articles written about the case, the murder and the boys. Terry Moran was a man who covered the story and said it was such a challenging story to cover because the media turned it into entertainment (Moran, 2020). They made jokes on things like Saturday night live and the whole thing became a comedy instead of a tragedy. Overall Im glad I did my research paper on this case because it opened my eyes to not only strain theory but how much of an impact the media can have on a case outcome.

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