Crime and the media part 1: What does your newspaper say about YOU?


We all know about the effect the media has on society, and it’s never been hammered home more than with the continual revelations coming out of the Leveson Inquiry.

You might think it’s a given that the newspaper you choose will affect how MUCH crime you think there is on the streets, but did you know it can also affect the TYPE of crime you think is going on around you?

OnTheBeat looks into the data on how newspapers affect the way we think about the world.

To see how TV compares, check out our next post.

Perhaps surprisingly, it seems that people who choose different newspapers have widly differing views on the type of crime they think they’ll be a victim of, as shown in the graph below:

Data from the British Crime Survey 2010, the latest year available for these figures

In it, you can see that those who choose different newspapers have very different perceptions from one another. People who read the Daily Star, for example, are twice as afraid of being a victim of car crime than any other type (28% versus 14% for burglary and 12% for violent crime), whereas those who read the FT are most afraid of being burgled.

What does your paper say about you? Do you think it’s right?

Most readers, however, are more afraid of car crime than any other type. And, looking at the actual figures, they’d be right:

Data from ONS Crime in England and Wales, 2010/11 and 2009/10

It’s clear from the figures that readers of every paper wildly overestimated their risk of being a victim of any of the three types. What’s more, over the past three years, car crime has actually been steadily falling, while burglary and violent crime have only shown minor fluctuations.

However, it is true that you are more likely to be a victim of car crime than any of the other types. Congratulations, Sun, Daily Mirror and Guardian readers– you got the pattern spot on.

Out of all the papers, FT readers have the most skewed perceptions compared to the crime risk for the average person. It begs the classic question; does what you read affect the way you think, or is it the other way round? Do FT readers lead a lifestyle that DOES put them more at risk of burglary, or does the paper just make them think they are?

FT readers- what do you think? Have you ever been burgled, or know people who have? Do you worry that you will be, and if so, WHY?

We’d love to get your thoughts on anything above- so drop us a comment below or tweet us @onthebeat101