Media analysis of: Train rape horror of student, 18

 

This furthers the accuracy of Chibnall’s theory by incorporating the element of ‘Personalisation’ in to the text, making the victim real and reiterating the ‘virgin attacked by monster’ theory4, as the victim was doing a routine task, not something that would ordinarily place anyone in danger. The article then explains the procedures taken by the police in layman terms or in what Chibnall refers to as a simplified fashion and proceed with a statement by a ‘Primary Definer’ or what Chibnall calls ‘Structured Access’5.

The ‘Primary Definer’s’ statement: “It was a horrific occurrence, in my 18 years experience I have never before encountered such a crime” not only reiterates that the crime was committed, but reaffirms the violent nature of the crime. This type of statement could arguably be said to be a normal reaction to any violent occurrence, however, the article concludes with a description of the offender and a summary of similar crimes that have been committed in recent months.

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The reporter refers to these instances as a ‘spate of assaults’. It is this type of terminology that Stanley Cohen refers to in ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’6. The use of such characteristic distortion can lead people reading the article to believe that it is not safe to travel on the trains alone. A ‘moral panic’ surrounding the issue of rape and the circumstances to which rape occurs, in this instance travelling by train, could be created by the manipulation of the way the events have been narrated within the text.

The article ends in a similar fashion with an almost mock warning that the assailants have not been caught. It also gives a different location to the reported attack, which is also a type of distortion. The incident on the Virgin train may have been a one-off crime, however, the article concludes by stating that this type of crime happens on trains in other locations as well, inviting readers to believe that it is not an isolated incident. The article is an example of crime reporting that is typical of what we have reviewed in our lectures.

The location, text and contents of the article, however, do not all relate to one another. This makes it very difficult to analyse the meaning of the text. If you compare the location of the article to the content, you are faced with a distorted view of whether or not the Mirror considers rape to be a serious crime. The content gives you an account of a horrendous attack that could happen to anyone of us, as the offenders in both cases mentioned have not been caught. This concludes the ‘8 professional imperatives’ founded by Chibnall.

‘New Angle’ or ‘Speculation’ within the article leaves the case open to further features being covered by the reporter, similar to a cliff-hanger film, the reporter has left the reader waiting for the next instalment.

Bibliography Clive Crickmer Train Rape Horror of Student, 18 The Mirror, February 25th 1999 David Kid-Hewitt Richard Osborne Crime and the Media Pluto Press, 1995 John Hartley Understanding News Routledge, 1982 Stanley Cohen Folk Devils and Moral Panics Granada Publishing, 1973.

1 Crime and the Media, the post-modern spectacle, David Kidd-Hewitt and Richard Osborne, Pluto Press, 1995 2 By this I refer to sections of the newspaper that describe features and articles that are written. I would have assumed that this type of crime would be better suited to a section like news, or possibly the first three pages of the newspaper the crime is a current event. The position and surrounding text lead me to believe that the text was only commissioned by the editor due to a shortage of space, not something that they felt was important.

This juxtaposing of crime with dissimilar articles is typical of popular press (Harley, 1982). 3 Crime and the Media, the post-modern spectacle, David Kidd-Hewitt and Richard Osborne, Pluto Press, 1995, Chapter 6, page 112. 4 Crime and the Media, the post-modern spectacle, David Kidd-Hewitt and Richard Osborne, Pluto Press, 1995, Chapter 6, page 112. 5 Crime and the Media, the post-modern spectacle, David Kidd-Hewitt and Richard Osborne, Pluto Press, 1995 6 Folk Devils and Moral Pancis, Stanley Cohen, Granada Publishing, 1973.

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