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Report CopyRight/DMCA Form For : The Impact Of Media Coverage On Crime Rates And Crime Style
There is a widespread notion that detailed media coverage of criminal acts creates models. of crime that function as direct causes of criminality or as crime triggers for at risk. populations Surette 2013 For example evidence suggests that at least 30 separate. occurrences of gun violence were inspired by the Russian Roulette scene from the movie. The Deer Hunter Gunter 2008 Additionally the shooter in The University of Virginia. Tech massacre was initially thought to be copying events from an action movie Nizza. 2013 Lastly the rape of a nine year old with a bottle was connected to a scene from the. movie Born Innocent Gunter 2008, As a result it is not surprising to see the implementation of public policies that aim. to reduce crime by controlling media contents particularly in developing countries As. a result it is not surprising to see the implementation of public policies that aim to. reduce crime by controlling media contents particularly in developing countries In 2010. for example Zimbabwe s government attempted to regulate international news outlets. and prevent negative media portrayals that might encourage violent uprisings against it. Surette 2013 Likewise during the nineties Colombia convinced 35 top communication. outlets to sign the Discretion Agreement and reduce the coverage of violent paramilitary. groups by appealing to national security and violence reduction Mexico followed a similar. path in 2011 when the Federal government proposed an agreement Agreement on Media. Coverage of Violence with 700 media outlets to reduce coverage of drug related crime. Philip and Berruecos 2012, Despite all this much research is still needed to prove whether the relationship between. media coverage and crime rates is empirically robust and unidirectional Surette 2013. The unsettled debate about whether media coverage promotes criminal behavior or crimi. nal ideation is one of the most lively areas of criminality research Surette 2013 Ferguson. et al 2008 and it is also becoming important to the study of political violence. While some argue that exposure to media coverage of crime is itself criminogenic mean. ing likely to cause crime others see the media as an instructional guide for individuals. that were going to commit crimes anyway The first group has developed the General. Aggression Model which argues that exposure increases crime by triggering aggres. sive behavior and by assisting in the development of callous dispositions Bushman and. Anderson 2002 Anderson et al 2007 The second group has a more favorable view. arguing that exposure merely provides criminals with inspiration it influences the style. of the crime but does not cause it In other words media coverage of crime here acts as. a rudder although it can change the direction the boat is going it is not the source of. propulsion Ferguson et al 2008 Surette 2013, This paper examines whether media coverage of crime functions as a crime trigger or. as a crime rudder by testing both models To accomplish this we rely on a unique. database that records the violent criminal activities of drug cartels operating at the US. Mexico border and the stylistic characteristics of their crimes Specifically we identify. the rates of drug related homicides per week in more than 2 500 counties municipalities. We also identify whether these murders were accompanied by public banners known as. narco messages a stylistic feature that is sometimes used by drug cartels Campbell. and Hansen 2014 Martin 2012 Atuesta 2017 Criminal activities especially homicides. are typically understood as clandestine in nature however we find counterintuitive evi. dence that the use of narco messages occurs the most when the press has covered similar. modalities in the weeks before, Our results show that criminogenic styles such as using credit taking banners and. exposing bodies dismemberment in crime scenes react to media coverage These crim. inogenic styles are such in that they do cause crimes to take on certain features but. do not cause the crime itself Specifically we provide evidence of Granger causality from. media coverage to crime style but not to crime rates Furthermore we provide evidence. that crime style reacts to media coverage unidirectionally rather than as a cycle Our. results show that as much as 53 of the error in the forecast of credit taking crime styles. is explained by changes in the quality of media coverage Moreover we find that when the. media covers crimes in larger detail criminals increase the use of credit taking and body. exposure styles in their crimes These findings provide valuable insight into one of the. most controversial areas of criminality research the relationship between crime coverage. in the media and criminal behavior, The rest of the paper proceeds as follows The first section discusses the existing literature. about media coverage and crime The second section presents original data and describes. empirical tests The third and fourth sections present results and robustness tests Both. sections show that media coverage of crime functions as a crime rudder but not as. crime trigger particularly when media is detailed in covering the style of crimes We. conclude by discussing how the paper contributes to the literature and by suggesting. possible avenues for future research,Media coverage and crime. A large body of criminology literature has tried to determine whether exposure to crim. inogenic media content triggers delinquency and aggression or just acts as a rudder. by providing instructional models of style for individuals that already had criminal inten. tions The debate in the literature as to which understanding best describes the role of. the media has overall lacked conclusive results, In support of the trigger theory many studies have shown some significant effects. between media consumption and crime Bushman and Anderson 2002 Anderson and. Carnagey 2004 Anderson and Bushman 2001 Doley et al 2013 Chadee et al 2017. Moreover the relation between media and criminal conduct has also been attributed to. the constant portray of violence that might result in ideas for potential criminal minds. Surette 2013 Surette and Gardiner Bess 2013, Other scholars have shown that violent media content can drive individuals that already. have violent thoughts and behavior Surette and Gardiner Bess 2013 Ivory and Kaestle. 2013 Ferguson 2015 1 Gunter 2008 provides evidence that shows how criminals have. modeled their crimes from media content Moreover this relation is stronger for people. that have similarities with criminal character Huesmann 1986 Surette 2013 Other. scholars have found evidence of increased hostility and engagement in physical fights. among individuals exposed to violent video games Anderson et al 2007 2010 and. violent song lyrics Anderson et al 2003, However there is also supporting evidence for the rudder theory as many studies have. shown a lack of correlation or lack of causality between media content and crime Fergu. son et al 2012 2009 2008 Ferguson and Kilburn 2009 Freedman 1984 Savage 2004. Freedman 2008 Ferguson 2002 Huesmann and Taylor 2006 Gunter 2008 Murray. 2008 Even if a significant and causal effect could be found some academics claim that. For example violent media tends to be watched the most by those with a relatively higher taste. for violence Brown and Hamilton Giachritsis 2005 Huesmann and Taylor 2006 Coyne 2007 Savage. 2008 Savage and Yancey 2008 Bushman and Huesmann 2014 Helfgott 2015. it could not be large enough to change aggregated criminal rates in notable ways Surette. and Gardiner Bess 2013 Elson and Ferguson 2014 DeCamp and Ferguson 2017 This. literature refuses to assume viewers are passive receptacles of learning and instead. conceives individuals as active shapers and processors of media culture Elson and Fer. guson 2014 As a result they argue that the interaction between media and behavior is. shaped by media users not media content Elson and Ferguson 2014. Furthermore several studies have shown a stronger and more solid association between. media coverage of crime and the stylistic decisions of criminals To these scholars the. media is more a source of crime techniques than a source of crime motivation In general. this literature argues that the media s criminogenic influence concentrates in populations. with pre existing susceptibility to criminality More specifically it shows that environ. mental factors and psychological predispositions are behind disruptive behavior disorders. rather than just exposure to media or video games Based on this research courts have. systematically ruled against attributing any significant impact to the media Ferguson. and Dyck 2012 Ferguson et al 2012 Grimes et al 2008 Ferguson and Savage 2012. The work of Surette 2014 for example analyzed anonymous surveys of 574 male and. female correctional inmates Surette concluded that the media influenced the style of. crimes by providing instructional models to predisposed individuals yet it did not prompt. crime per se Surette 2014 He coined the term ruddering to illustrate how media. portrayals of criminality shape the stylistic form the crime takes on instead of acting as. a direct catalyst for the crime itself Surette 2013. This debate stands unresolved mostly because of the difficulties involved in finding ap. propriate ways to measure and correlate the role of the media as a trigger or rud. der for crime The first difficulty is gathering data on copycat criminals Surette. 2013 Most studies rely on evidence gathered from post crime interviews with offenders. Surette 2013 This means that all these studies are subject to perception biases and. self justification Offenders may rationalize their criminal behavior by attributing it to. the impact of the media or to other third parties because they find it comforting to. avoid the cost of decision making To mitigate this problem studies have tried to identify. copycat criminals based on the facts of the case Surette 2013 Despite this the lack. of a centralized and comparable source of information that describes crimes occurring at. different times and in different police jurisdictions is a serious challenge Furthermore. even if two crimes appear to be similar scholars cannot be certain that they were inspired. by the same source Stack 2000 Coleman 2004 Surette 2015. A second difficulty is that media coverage and criminal behavior may enforce one another. Front pages prioritize content with higher audience ratings and editors approval Reiner. and Newburn 2007 Fink and Schudson 2014 Coddington 2014 Criminal groups may. perpetuate noticeable violent actions to gain more visibility to intimidate their enemies. Indeed there is much evidence that media coverage is proactively sought by some criminals. who wish to advance their criminal objectives by receiving attention and inducing fear. Terrorists are the most common type of such criminal Schmid and De Graaf 1982. Hoffman et al 2010 Kearns et al 2014 Abrahms and Conrad 2017 Brown 2017 Min. 2013 followed by other criminal organizations Gambetta 2009 Dura n Mart nez 2015. Mendoza Rockwell 2016 Atuesta 2017 Martin 2012 Campbell and Hansen 2014. Furthermore some research has found that criminals tend to value media coverage the. most when there is intergroup competition Hoffman 2010 Hoffman et al 2010 Martin. 2012 when criminal groups identify with ethnic separatist groups instead of groups with. broad goals Min 2013 when criminal groups operate in democratic governments Min. 2013 when criminal groups are non religious Wright 2009 when attacks are less lethal. for civilians Abrahms and Conrad 2017 when criminals are trying to perform particu. larly dramatic attacks Wright 2009 when criminal groups are leaderless resistance or. not hierarchical Brown and Hamilton Giachritsis 2005 and when terrorist groups want. to claim credit Wright 2009, In sum testing for the criminogenic effects of media exposure is problematic because of. the dynamic process between the media which may be driven by sensationalism and. criminals who may be benefited by the direct indirect reputational gains of media cover. age Identifying which of these two reactions happens first is a methodological challenge. particularly when as has been the case academics lack data on the strategic choices of. criminals that has been observed over long enough time periods to provide material for. statistical inference, By directly tackling this issue this paper contributes to studying how media immersion. and narrative influences social behavior Slater 2007 Zhang et al 2010 Valenzuela et al. 2012 to identifying the effects of violent media contents on criminal behavior Surette. 2013 and to discerning how media a crucial element of democracy can tackle governance. McCarthy Latimer and Kendrick Jr 2016, Our study uses drug cartels operating at the US Mexico border as our subjects because. of their notably different stylistic patterns Martin 2012 and because their crime rates. vary over time and geographically Coscia and Rios 2012 Homicides perpetrated by. drug cartels vary in style stylistic differences can be found in the use of specific types of. weapons victims characteristics types of torture the display of dismembered or decapi. tated bodies at the crime scene and in the use of other intentionally public displays such. as banners that explain their motivations or intents Shirk and Wallman 2015 Dura n. Mart nez 2015 Drug cartel related crimes can be observed across 1 068 municipalities. from border cities like R o Bravo and Tamaulipas that had only 18 homicides from 2008. to 2010 to places like Jua rez that endured 6 300 homicides during the same period A. burgeoning literature seeks to understand the levels of violence in Mexico Dell 2015. R os 2015 Shirk and Wallman 2015 Osorio 2015 Caldero n et al 2015 Trejo and Ley. 2017 but research analyzing the dynamics within the conflict such as communication. strategies has not kept pace, Mexican drug cartels are highly relevant as case studies for the interaction of crime and. media It has been strongly questioned if media outlets should exhibit the violent activi. ties of drug cartels While some argue that media s priority is to show to the public the. truth other arguments rely on the fact that violent media coverage inspire new forms. of violence and serves as a channel for criminal organizations to gain visibility and dis. seminate their messages Reyes 2011 Despite this controversy the Mexican National. Institute of Information Access has decided to reserve the right to publish the records. of drug cartel related crime for up to 12 years arguing that allowing publication sooner. would also allow criminal groups to generate instability and insecurity among the Mex. ican population Martin 2012, Our research was made possible due to the existence of two unique datasets that we. collected to describe crime rates and crime styles among drug cartels operating at the. US Mexico border First to measure Crime Rates we obtained official registries of. homicides attributed to drug cartels by Mexican intelligence and security institutions. SNSP 2011 During a short sui generis period 2007 2011 Mexican authorities allowed. public access to a database that recorded whether a homicide was drug cartel related This. gave us the unique opportunity to identify drug cartel related violence in a georeferenced. panel To be considered drug cartel related a homicide needed to meet six criteria These. are i use of high caliber firearms ii signs of torture or severe lesions in victims iii. bodies found at the crime scene or in a vehicle iv victims were taped wrapped or. gagged v murders happened in a prison and involved criminal organizations and vi. if one of several special circumstance occurred Among these special circumstances. are whether the victim was abducted prior to assassination known as a levanto n in. Spanish ambushed or chased whether the victim was an alleged member of a criminal. organization and whether a criminal organization publicly claimed responsibility for the. murder Molzahn et al 2012 In the period from 2008 to 2010 we identified 31 676 drug. cartel related homicides across 1 112counties municipalities Overall these homicides. represent 95 of all homicides perpetrated during those years and in those areas. Second to measure Criminogenic Style we constructed a database that identifies two. discretionary stylistic features that sometimes accompany drug cartel related homicides. credit taking banners and bodies dismemberment put on display We matched official. registries of homicides with our original data set of about 1 800 credit taking banners. displayed publicly by drug cartel organizations during 2007 2010 These banners also. known as narco messages Campbell and Hansen 2014 Martin 2012 Atuesta 2017. Mendoza Rockwell 2016 Dura n Mart nez 2015 are used by drug cartels to take credit. for their criminal actions or to clarify their degree of responsibility for them Narco. messages may also be displayed to intimidate potential victims to communicate with. local citizens or to give instructions to investigators policemen or journalists Martin. 2012 The content of the banners may be a threatening maxim like you cannot be on. good terms with both God and the Devil or an appeal to the public like the claim that. this battle for turf is for the good of all or like the banner dedicated to the brave. noble and loyal people wishing them Merry Christmas ho ho ho Narco messages. are a creepy stylistic innovation that stretches the boundaries of traditional graffiti with. its bizarre mimicry of the formality of Mexican political campaign propaganda Salopek. Our database allowed us to identify the share of drug cartel murders that were accom. panied by a credit taking banner we classified this as a dummy called Credit taking. The use of credit taking messages in Mexico is fascinating in its own right but this is not. the only example of such phenomena We have evidence of similar criminal messaging. occurring around the world in places such as Colombia Southern Italy and in numerous. U S cities Cowell 1992 Carbray 2002 Martin 2012 Ortiz 2013 Criminal messaging is. also a major part of terrorism which has been described as violent propaganda or violent. communication e g Schmid and De Graaf 1982 A line of research has examined why. terrorist groups sometimes claim their attacks Wright 2009 among reasons for doing. so are intergroup competition Hoffman et al 2010 communication within the group. Brown and Hamilton Giachritsis 2005 and operation in democratic countries Min. 2013 However this literature also established that there are reasons militant groups. do not seek credit Such reasons could be that the attack was especially heinous or the. desire to avoid a bad reputation Hoffman 2010 Abrahms and Conrad 2017. Interestingly and specific to the case of US Mexico border drug cartels we were also. able to identify the share of credit taking banners that were combined with another crim. inogenic style the display of bodies or dismemberment typically beheadings Dura n. Mart nez 2015 The stylistic display of human heads or bodies is worth analysis be. cause it helps us understand why the appearance of the crime scene is important to. these kinds of criminals and how they use violence as a narrative Narco messages and. bodies dismemberment are typically displayed openly in high traffic public areas where. authorities citizens and journalists can easily find them They are often found on roads. hanging from bridges or dispersed around various parts of a city Lantz 2016 Out of. the total of 1 800 narco messages 51 were accompanied by a body or part of one We. created a dummy for homicides with this characteristic and called it Body Exposure. We also developed two ways to measure the extent and the quality of the media cover. age of criminogenic contents To create the variable Media Coverage we identified the. amount of drug cartel related homicides that were covered by the press Beginning in. 2007 news media organizations closely followed organized crime related homicides keep. ing count independent of government sources The most comprehensive coverage was done. by Reforma a major national newspaper with a large pool of correspondents but other. national newspapers like Milenio and El Universal also had their own independent counts. Molzahn et al 2012 The Justice in Mexico Program www justiceinmexico org has. also gathered statistics regarding media coverage of drug related homicides from 2006 to. 2017 Reforma 2017 Milenio 2017 Out of the 32 199 homicides officially classified as. perpetrated by drug cartels 23 737 were covered by the press Coverage is very different. across time and geography For example although the press covered 76 of the homi. cides in 2010 in 2007 it only covered 63 Also in Oaxaca 26 of drug cartel related. homicides were not covered meanwhile in Quere taro were all were covered by the press. It is important to note that Mexican news outlets and the Mexican government used a. similar methodology to classify a homicide as drug cartel related Milenio 2017. Finally to identify the quality of media coverage we measured the degree of detail with. which each of the 1 800 narco messages was reported We classified coverage as detailed. when the specific content of the narco message was reported This means that messages. like Esto les va a pasar a los que no respeten a los grandes jefes de La Familia this. will happen to those that don t respect La Familia s great chiefs could be read in their. entirety in the newspaper El Sol de Toluca 2009 Coverage classified as non detailed. was when the reporter only hinted at the existence of a narco message without explicitly. quoting its content Out of our total sample 74 of the messages were detailed The share. of detailed messages over total messages is represented by the variable Media Coverage. Our final dataset is thus a weekly frequency panel with 5 408 observations over a period. of 508 weeks between 2007 and 2010 2 We exploit state level variations in measures of. the extent and quality of media coverage and in measures of the relative frequency of the. two criminogenic styles narco messages and body dismemberment displays Descriptive. statistics of our measures of media coverage quality of media coverage and criminogenic. styles are shown in Table 1,Table 1 about here, We use weeks as our frequency measure because media coverage measures were only available per. week Reforma 2017 Milenio 2017, On average the media fails to cover 1 28 homicides per week per state The lowest. recorded coverage was during the 13th week of 2010 when in the state of Chihuahua. the media failed to report on 77 drug related homicides There are instances in which. media covers more homicides than the official count like during the 43th week of 2010. for the state of Guerrero 61 more homicides This happens when mass murder graves. are found Official records generally avoid these records as they consider them just part. of previous missing persons statistics Of the total events covered by the media on. average only 10 8 are reported in detail Drug cartels take credit on average for 2 7. of their homicides There are cases in which credit taking is up to 250 larger than. homicides because many drug cartels take credit for a single action Finally on average. 7 9 of credit taking style homicides were accompanied with the display of bodies or. dismemberment,Empirical test, To address possible bidirectionalities between media coverage and crime we rely on re. action functions and Granger causality tests as our main empirical specifications These. methods are an efficient way to show co movements of multiple time series A large em. pirical literature supports the use of Granger causality tests Granger 1969 for testing. cycles Jaeger and Paserman 2008 Huang et al 2008 Gambacorta et al 2014 and as a. relevant tool for crime studies with time series analysis Saridakis 2004 Ramirez 2013. Hsu and McDowall 2017, Our panel vector autoregression consists of p lags of each variable in the equation in this. case empirical reaction functions for Criminogenic style Credit taking or Body exposure. style and Media coverage Media coverage or Media coverage quality. xit 0 1j xit j 2j zit j exit 1,zit 0 1j zit j 2j xit j ezit 2. where the 1 s and 2 s are matrices of coefficients for each state i on time t The terms. z for 1 and x for 2 are vectors of exogenous variables that may shift the reaction. function up or down and ex and ez are the vector error terms These equations can also. be expressed in matrix form letting Yi t xit zit and eit. A L Yt eit 3, where eit are structural shocks which are by definition uncorrelated with each other and. A L is a matrix lag polynomial of order A L I A1 L1 A2 L2 Ap Lp where A1. Note that efficiency and consistency is achieved because all variables in the equations.
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