Special Issue Introduction: The Impact of the Media in Criminal Justice

Published date01 November 2018
Date01 November 2018
Subject MatterIntroduction
/tmp/tmp-17J7sRClk72FeI/input 787728CCJXXX10.1177/1043986218787728Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeHenson
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2018, Vol. 34(4) 360 –363
Special Issue Introduction:
© The Author(s) 2018
Article reuse guidelines:
The Impact of the Media in
DOI: 10.1177/1043986218787728
Criminal Justice
Billy Henson1
Introduction: The Impact of Media in Criminal Justice
Within the social sciences, there is a widely shared belief that reality as we know it is
a socially constructed artifact, influenced heavily by both group and individual-level
perspectives (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Krippendorff, 2016; McLeod & Chaffee,
2017; Zerubavel, 2016). For most people, the construction of that reality is based
largely on two things—direct experience and symbolic reality. Direct experience, of
course, includes all the interactions and phenomena that we each physically experi-
ence. However, our symbolic reality includes all the beliefs, ideas, and perspectives
developed through indirect or secondary experiences (McLeod & Chaffee, 2017). For
example, while I have never had a broken bone, I have constructed an idea of what it
would be like based on the experiences of my friends and the portrayal of such injuries
on television. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to determine if one’s symbolic reality
is accurate, without direct experience. Essentially, unless I break my arm, I may never
know if my perceptions of having a broken bone are accurate, and that’s not a theory I
want to test anytime soon. However, by examining those secondary or indirect sources
of information, researchers may gain insight into how and why certain symbolic per-
spectives form.
The Media’s Role in the Social Construction of Crime
For many people, the information presented by media outlets (e.g., news program-
ming, television shows, movies, music, etc.) is...

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