National and independent studies continue to maintain that the media holds an important position for communication, and information sharing and dissemination in society: people rely indeed on images of trends and prevalence made available by the experts and official sources. Within the context of Canada, Judith Dubois, a researcher at the Université du Québec à Montréal, refers to several national studies recorded by the Canadian Sentencing Commission that reveal 95% of interviewees use the media as the main source of information on crime-related issues. Despite the impressive figure, there have been endless debates on the degree to which media coverage of crime-related events influences public opinion and policy.
Whether the influence is strong or weak, this paper outlines several critical studies, practices and partnerships in the field of crime prevention and urban safety, which suggest that the media exerts both negative and positive influences on public opinion and policy and is most relevant in our focus on crime prevention. In order to examine this role, it is important to recognize that the ‘media’ is not a single source of enquiry, but includes a series of elements which require their own separate analysis, from news papers, to radio, internet, television, alternate media in the investigation of the influence of crime media on public opinion and criminal justice and prevention policy and practice.
In the process of collecting and disseminating information on crime, media representations can negatively influence perceptions on crime-related issues, and interfere with the implementation of crime prevention strategies and policies. There is a growing concern that the main characteristics of the media are not necessarily conducive to the knowledge of crime prevention.