The Media S Influence

I took a sample survey of 100 people in an attempt to see how the media influences people’s perspectives of gangs and I found some of my results to be quite revealing. A majority of people formed their ideas about gangs through the media. The form of media that proved to be the most influential were documentaries such as Gangland on the History Channel and Locked up on National Geographic. Out of the 70 people who gained their understanding of gangs solely through the media, 80% of them watched Gangland, Locked up of both. In that 80% all of them believed that gang violence takes a large role in today’s prison system. This proves how misleading these exploitation documentaries really are. Like I mentioned earlier, Locked Up only covers maximum-security prisons and those only make up less than one quarter of the United States prison system. For the most part the only people who said that gang violence was not a prominent issue in prison were people who either have been there themselves or are close to others who have been imprisoned. Another statistic that I found surprising was that about 85% of people believed that gang violence could not be stopped. This stat wasn’t effected by personal experiences. I suppose it could be people being realists as apposed to idealists but I think the media has a large effect on the people’s decision here as well. Gangs are described as deadly viruses and mainstream documentaries thrive on the exaggeration of the violence and terror that the gangs of America bring. In the news you can hear about an increase in police forces in certain areas but the violence never seems to end. When hearing these things on a semi regular basis it is easy for one to lose hope. I might be too optimistic here but I believe that the violence can be stopped. This isn’t some problem that we can just throw money at or increase the police force and hope it goes away. Time and time again this has been done but you cannot force gangs out of existence, it only moves them to the next town. It will take a major social change for the violence to be stopped. Alternatives to gang life need to be provided along with education for the problem to go away. Informative documentaries are a great way to move society along the path of change. These documentaries open up discussions of possible solutions while describing cycle in which the gang members exist.