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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: communication

Student Post: Tackling the Group Presentation!

Nickie Phillips

During your time at university it is inevitable that you will have to take part in at least one group presentation, and having a good idea about what to expect will be very helpful. Image

Sometimes, you’ll be able to choose who you work with, but on other occasions it will be decided for you – in this situation it is paramount that you try your very best to get on with (or at least tolerate!) your group members, for the sake of your marks! Working in groups can be fun and very beneficial if you do things the right way, so here are my five tips on a positive and organised group presentation.

1.       Take a Register I can’t recommend this enough. There’ll be at least one occasion that a member of your group is unable to attend and this can make completing the task in hand a lot more difficult – therefore, keeping a register allows all of you to see if someone isn’t pulling their weight.

2.       Be Calm and Considered Stress won’t help any of you. Make an action plan from the start, this way you’ll be able to set deadlines together and delegate work efficiently.

3.       Distributing Work Although sometimes the topic of your presentation may be dictated by your lecturer, you will almost always have scope to expand this topic in ways that interest you and the rest of your group. In your first meeting, you should discuss each others personal interests and areas of expertise in the topic you are working on. This allows you to then create sections of your presentation and choose who works on which part and it also ensures that each group member is happy with what they will be focusing on.

“In my first presentation at uni, other people in my group sorted out what work people were doing. This made it so much harder because I wasn’t working on the parts I was really interested in” Gemma – Criminology student.

4.       Time Management We’ve all been known to leave things to the last minute, but there’s nothing more awkward to watch than a presentation that has obviously been thrown together an hour before. It isn’t too difficult to put together a really great presentation if you make sure you follow your group’s deadlines as well as setting personal ones for when to complete your own research and slides before meeting up with the group. This way everything will run much more smoothly and you will achieve better marks.

“It is important to get started on producing the presentation early and spend time putting it together and rehearsing it so that it isn’t rushed. I think it’s also important that if it’s a group presentation that you work with people who have a similar way of working to yourself or problems can develop” 2nd year Criminology and Psychology student.

5.       The Presentation Itself In terms of the actual presentation, there are a few tips that I have from doing and being part of the audience for a lot of presentations over the last year and a half. Whatever you do, do not copy and paste huge chunks from the internet onto your slide – this is so obvious to everyone in the room (most importantly who’s marking it!). It’s fine to use quotes from relevant sources, but say where you got them from and try not to use quotes that are too lengthy.

Keep the slides brief as it is far better if you have a page of notes in your hand that prompt you on what you are going to say – people can read the slides themselves so tell them things that aren’t on the presentation.

Following on from this, one really important point is to not read everything off the slides. The whole point of a presentation is to present information, so do not just read large paragraphs from the screen. Your presentation should usually be a mix of relatively short points, pictures, videos, graphs, and whatever else is relevant to your topic – you should then vocally expand on what is on the slides in order to really put across your information to your audience. Let other people speak – interrupting people is unfair and won’t get you better marks.

“Another member of my group interrupted me in a presentation once and it completely threw me! I lost my train of thought and found it really difficult to get back on track”

Gemma – Criminology student.

Another thing that I have seen done is people giving out hand outs during their presentation – this gives the audience even more information on your topic. These hand outs could be anything from a factsheet, to government legislation, to a newspaper article, and as long as they are relevant they could be a very useful tool in your presentation. Keep the slides brief, relevant, and thought provoking – good luck!

Questions:

  1. What other tips would you add to my five?
  2. What have your experiences been when working on a group presentation at Leeds Met.

Blog post by Zoe Cox

Photo courtesy of freedigital photos.net - artist: ddpavumba

What Introductory Criminal Justice Students Need to Know About the Media and Crime

Nickie Phillips

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At the start of a new semester, criminal justice professors face the daunting task of demystifying media myths

Danielle Reynolds, Crimcast Correspondent

The media, through various means, has become the primary source of news and entertainment for many Americans. Each day the media reaches millions of viewers, listeners and readers throughout the world and provides a rapid broadcast of knowledge and information. Although the ability to have “the world at our fingertips” is beneficial, the inaccuracies and rash portrayals of current events can lead to inadvertent consequences.

Crime in the news

Crime is portrayed in the media on a daily basis, whether it is in the newspapers, on television, via video or written blogs, among other means. As criminologist Ray Surette explains, news regarding crime may be general, referring to broad trends and issues, or specific, in reference to a particular crime incident. The media has one objective, to sell stories. Therefore, it chooses which crimes, victims and court cases merit attention, often choosing to expose the most sensational, emotional, and significant crime stories. Unfortunately, the media does not always broadcast information in an objective or accurate manner, which can lead to unintended consequences.

How the media portrays crime

The media increases crime salience through agenda setting, priming and framing the “best-selling” stories. The public is exposed to certain crime issues and then primed to believe that those issues warrant more political attention. The media chooses which social problems merit greater attention and relies on the government and experts to interpret and contextualize these problems to the public. As viewers, we rely on the government and experts to frame the news for us and determine the criteria by which we judge public policies or crime related issues. Lastly, the media encourages its audience to arrive at certain conclusions by promoting a particular treatment recommendation or moral evaluation to the problem. It often focuses blame on a particular individual or larger social or political institution, which ultimately affects punitiveness and future policy preferences.

Representations of the police in the media are often overdramatized and romanticized. Research has shown that police are often presented favorably in television and movies; as fictional television dramas show the majority of cases solved and criminal suspects successfully apprehended. Unfortunately, crime presented as entertainment distorts viewers understanding of criminal investigations. Subsequently, the public develops unrealistic expectations regarding the investigation process, police use of force and forensic evidence. Such portrayal reinforces traditional law enforcement tactics including increased police presence, harsh penalties and increasing police power.

The effect on viewers

It has been argued that heavy television viewers have an altered perception of the “real world”, shaped by the media. Therefore, these viewers feel a greater threat from crime and believe that crime is more prevalent than statistics indicate. Violent crime is disproportionately broadcast and portrayed as more violent, random and dangerous than in the “real world”. Subsequently, viewers internalize these crime stories and develop a “scary” image of reality. Unfortunately, this threatening perception of society initiates fear, mistrust, and alienation, causing viewers to support more “quick-fix” solutions against crime.

Leading to punitive policies

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Misinformation dispersed by the media heightens public sensitivity to the crime problem, reinforcing public sense of immediate and inescapable danger. Subsequently, fear and anxiety develop as the public pressures politicians for a “quick-fix” and extreme solution to the crime problem. These “quick-fix” solutions focus on short-term crime relief, resulting in more punitive rather than preventative polices and encourage more policing, arrests and longer sentences.

The media coverage of minorities and crime demonstrates the disproportionate portrayal of minorities shown in menacing contexts. Blacks are more likely than whites to be shown in mug shots, in physical custody of the police and victimizing strangers and members of different races. Media representations of minorities result in exaggerations of crime statistics including the number of blacks arrested for crimes and the likelihood that the public will be victimized by minorities. This ultimately attributes the crime problem to blacks as a group. This false depiction of minority criminals leads to public fear and mistrust of minorities, allowing for the expansion of punitive policies based on race.

This culpability was demonstrated by the media’s coverage of the “War on Drugs”. The media exposed an imminent and threatening national crisis and recommended the use of power and mobilization of massive resources to curb the threat and vanquish the “enemy”. Images and stereotypes of the “enemy”, exposed by the media, included young, inner-city, minority males in gangs terrorizing communities and innocent citizens while conducting illegal drug deals and committing various crimes. Subsequently, the public became fearful and began to alienate themselves from the community, while pressuring politicians for an immediate “quick-fix” solution. Consequently, the police crackdown on street-level drug dealers and harsher sentences resulted in additional arrests and longer prison sentences. However, the underlying conditions leading to the drug problem remained unidentified and unaffected. In addition, the punitive “quick-fix” solution lead to unintended consequences, including angry and hardened attitudes towards offenders, increased costs of the criminal justice system and intensified racial tensions, resulting from targeting minorities. Concerns about constitutional and civil rights waned, citing more immediate concerns for public safety. Respect for the law eroded, as the public encouraged more aggressive policing strategies, exposing citizens to expanded discretion of law enforcement and infringements of their Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.

danielle

Danielle Reynolds, Crimcast contributor, teaches Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Danielle earned her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice in 2011 from John Jay College where she was awarded the Claude Hawley Medal and Graduate Scholarship. She currently lives in New York City.