Monday, 14 September 2015

Selecting Headlines, Constructing Reality

More than 200.000 crimes are reported to the police in Vienna every year, less than 2.000 of them are communicated to media. According to an analysis of 3.726 incidents passed to media by the police in 2013 and 2014, there seems to be a pattern in the selection of what is to be reported and what not. While robbery is number one on the list, only every 43rd rape is communicated to media which creates a distortion of reality. The nonrendering of assistance to persons in danger and racist violence are non-existent in media although being reported to the police. At the same time, almost every single robbery or assault in connection with jewellers, banks or taxi drivers is passed to journalists. Drug-related crime, number six on the list, is communicated to journalists every second day. The analysis also shows a correlation between the amount of incidents reported to the press and the districts in which they happen.
Selections do have an impact on our conception of reality and they are also shaped by what the police reports. After all, between 80 and 90% of all the crimes we read about were originally reported by the police (via).

photograph by William Helburn (1960) via