I digress. They run a lead story like that, and then when actual statistics come out that show the murder rate decreasing and the 'increases' in violence to be "driven almost entirely by increased recording and reporting of family violence", it gets buried and left without comment. (You'll notice the above link is in fact an NZPA article, not a Herald one.)
It was with all this in mind that I read this article on page A2 of yesterday's paper. "Crime is someone else's problem", goes the headline, which is itself an interesting take on what the article says.
New Zealanders can recognise crime in other areas, but prefer to dismiss it as part of everyday life in their own, a study suggests.Ok. Go on.
Now, this is interesting. Why would so many people think it was a problem elsewhere? How would they know? Let's read on and find out what the conclusions of the report were.
More than 1400 people took part in a Victoria University survey, Not in my backyard? Crime in the Neighbourhood, conducted by Institute of Criminology director Associate Professor Michael Rowe.
The study focused on four areas - Murrays Bay on Auckland's North Shore, Otahuhu in South Auckland, Westown in New Plymouth and Havelock North in Hawkes Bay. They were selected for their varying socio-economic status, demographic profile and police-recorded crime rates.
The survey found that while more than 80 per cent of respondents agreed - or strongly agreed - crime was a serious problem in New Zealand, 63.2 per cent believed it was a problem only in other areas.
Respondents from Otahuhu - the area with the highest crime rate - did identify crime as a serious problem in their neighbourhood but, like the other regions, tended to dissociate it from the local community.Ok...
"Otahuhu has got a lot of bad people, I know, but not as it's made out to be [that] all crimes are committed by people in Otahuhu."And.... that's it. That's the article. Finis. It's just a series of anecdotes, with no talk of why these outcomes might be the case. "What an odd paper to publish," I thought. "An academic paper with no discussion or conclusions?" So I decided to track down the one of the authors of the original report, who was kind enough to send me a copy of it. (He emphasised that it has not yet been approved for publishing, but that didn't stop the Herald half-reporting the results.)
[...] One laughed off finding comatose teenagers in her yard at weekends.
[...]"But most of them we sort of know because our children grew up in Havelock North so ... I'm not threatened personally by it, it's just disorder, if you can call it disorder."
What probably shouldn't surprise you is that the report does in fact draw some conclusions, albeit tentative, about why the disparity exists between people's concern for crime in their area and their angst about crime in New Zealand. And it's not like they're buried at the back, where an overly rushed Herald reporter might miss them. The abstract itself starts:
Contrary to much political and media discourse, quantitative and qualitative results of a research study suggest that the New Zealand public do not regard crime and disorder as escalating or serious problems in local neighbourhoods. Across a range of different areas, the study found that a majority of respondents did not regard crime in their local community as a serious problem compared to other districts, neither did they report that it was an escalating problem.Weird! Because the article didn't mention anything about that!
In contrast, respondents were much more likely to report that crime problems were serious and increasing across the nation as a whole. This discrepancy might be explained by the reliance of the public on media coverage of crime for information on national crime trends and patterns.Media coverage! Like in the Herald. Later, in the discussion, the authors conclude that such media coverage and populist politics - "Crusher" Collins, anyone? - might have serious negative effects for the country:
That media and political perspectives on crime are inconsistent with public opinion might be of general concern given considerable and continuing legislative and financial investments undertaken as a consequence. They are also problematic since efforts to develop local community policing and community safety community safety initiatives are likely to be hampered if the complexities of public perspectives are overlooked.The interesting question concerns how it came to pass that an article about an academic criminology study managed to leave out any sort of analysis or conclusion - material that was clear and obvious in the paper that the journalist (presumably) made some attempt at reading. I suppose I don't know enough about how newsrooms work to answer that question. Does the journalist, consciously or unconsciously, leave out material that conflicts with the media's line? Is it an editorial decision, a case of some higher up figure gutting the article? Did the journalist really think that the discussion wasn't interesting or relevant?
It's interesting to see what they did find relevant, with a capital 'R' in big red letters.
You know, I would laugh - look, there's been a crime! - if I didn't think that it (both this article and general crime reporting) was a serious failure to meet the most basic standards of disinterested journalism. I'd really like to hear from anyone who thought otherwise.
Orcinus (Kaukapakapa): Bank robberies are everywhere; living closer to those bank and central town area makes me worry if such incidence falls on to me when I walk aroun the town.Sigh.