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Crime Sells

Posted by: | September 29, 2010 | No Comment |
Picture retrieved from OliverAlexs photostream and found by way of Creative Commons
Picture retrieved from OliverAlex’s photostream and found by way of Creative Commons

Since before newspapers were first began being made, crime has been reported. One of the earliest crime reports were written in cuneiform and on clay tablets. Today, the language and the medium may be different, but the draw of a crime report remains the same in its appeal as a human interest story.

Ironically enough, even though crime is considered a human interest story, reports are usually of crimes that have very little (if any) direct impact on the people who read these stories.

What makes it human interest is the way that uncovering crime in higher or far removed society demonstrates how much can be learned about people when they are caught violating the law. Though these stories don’t reflect standard behavior, they do offer glimpses of emotional aspects of ordinary life, aspects that would have otherwise remained hidden.

4 things that reporting information on a crime can result in:

  1. Assist in the apprehension of the criminal
  2. Deter other potential criminals
  3. Clarify and reinforce lines of acceptable behavior in society
  4. Strengthen political bonds

The elements that comprise stories that most appeal to readers are female or child suspects or victims, a famous or well-known victim or suspect, some doubt about the guilt of the suspect and intimations of the promiscuous behavior by the victim or suspect.

The line of thinking that seems to justify the reading and writing of these reports, which can bring to light some of the most intimate details of victim and/or suspects life, is this: criminals and their victims surrender all rights to privacy.

The method of reporting crime now has not so much changed as it has expanded. Crime is written about, but it’s also televised on popular programs (such as Cold Case Files and 48 Hours), reported on broadcast radio, blogged and (of course) heard by word of mouth.

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