Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crime in Chicago and the Role of the Media

The city of Chicago has always been infamous for its gangland and violent reputation. Being an urban hub, whereby many American industries are centred, this is not surprising, however when researching the city’s crime statistics in recent years, I was shocked by how prevalent Chicago’s violence seems to be. According to the Chicago-Sun Times, Chicago is home to ‘four of the 25 most dangerous neighbourhoods in the country’, and year after year it rivals New York and LA in the most dangerous crime-filled city title. In regards to Tuesday’s Rotella reading, I wondered to what affect all the sensational journalism surrounding Chicago’s crime rate has had upon its population rate, and how the media influence public opinion and stereotypes about the area. According to an article in ‘The Huffington Post’, it reports that despite increasing crime rates, the metropolitan area ‘increased by nearly 73,000 people from July 2007 to July 2008, making the population 9.6 million’.

What this suggests then, is the sense that media sensational journalism is not affecting newcomers desire to enter the city. However stereotypes regarding Chicago’s violent background are still evident in the media. When reading Gregory’s ‘Southern Diaspora’, the idea that the African American migrant was portrayed as the ‘violent disruptor’ was shown repeatedly. Interestingly I found that this racial stereotype is still perpetuated in the media today; African Americans are still presented as the gang-leaders and perpetrators of Chicago’s crime levels. Arguably this does not help race relations, and suggests that the media’s sensationalistic news-reporting techniques only help to fuel racial stereotypes and discrimination.

Here are some articles from the Chicago Redeye which highlight how the media plays a role in perpetuating ideas surrounding Chicago crime:

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