Keeping women off the streets
C. Kay Weaver
Through an examination of Crimewatch UK’s reporting of a sexual assault and murder of a young woman, this analysis discusses how such news programmes mediate messages to women about the need for self-regulation if they are to avoid becoming the victim of violent crimes. Drawing on a combination of both textual and reception research, the investigation illustrates how crime reconstructions help promote the power of a gendered hegemony by reinforcing women’s fears for their safety in public spaces.
Television programmes showing reconstructions of real-life crime are a regular and popular feature of the British television schedules. Crimewatch UK, broadcast since 1984 on BBC1, a public service broadcasting channel, was the first of such programmes transmitted in the UK. It has since been followed by two sister productions Crimewatch Unlimited and Crimewatch File, also broadcast on BBC1, and on commercial television by ITV’s Crimestoppers, Crime Story and Michael Winner’s True Crimes series, and London Weekend Television’s Crime Monthly.
Transmitted nationally once a month ten times a year (with a break over the summer months), Crimewatch UK is made by the BBC documentary features department with extensive co-operation from the police. In relation to the BBC’s public service remit, this programme functions to ‘seek help and information from its audience in the solution of major crimes’ (BBC Annual Report and Handbook 1986: 9). With each edition watched by up to 12 million viewers, Crimewatch also serves the BBC’s need to attract audiences. The types of crimes featured in the programme and their reporting methods play a crucial role in attracting and holding these viewers. As Schlesinger et al. detail, ‘the programme team select their crime stories from the popular end of the market, with murder, armed robbery with violence and sexual crime as the staple items of coverage’ (1991: 408). Denying that this constitutes a concentration on the reporting of sensational crime, Anne Morrison, Executive Producer in charge of BBC crime
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: News, Gender, and Power. Contributors: Cynthia Carter - Author, Gill Branston - Author, Stuart Allan - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 248.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.