Victimology: The Viano Model for Journalistic Mistreatment

The Viano Model for journalistic mistreatment of crime victims is used throughout this post. Ernesto and Quincy stories are closely examined.

Ernesto Story

The child victim portrayed in this news clip was shown multiple times.  This directly violates the child’s sense of privacy and is associated with the ignoring the victims’ and survivors’ wishes regarding how and when they wish to deal with the media.

Ernesto was in the hospital and the media took numerous photos of him in his most dire times.  Chasing victims and survivors into hospital rooms, police stations, etc.

Interviewing victims and/or survivors at inappropriate times. The mother of Ernesto was attacked on the street by the mob of media.  This infraction can also relate to ignoring the victims’ and survivors’ wishes regarding how and when they wish to deal with the media. The latter is truer from the perspective of the female family relative who was asked obtrusive questions by the media as she was pleading to “leave things alone.”

Another thing to consider is the printing the victims’ names and addresses, particularly when the offenders are still at large. Although the situation seemed like it was within the family circle, the taping of the child’s residence and divulging of other personal information was inappropriate.

Lastly, inappropriately delving into the victim’s past is a horrible way to put out the news, mainly considering that it is a child the media is speaking of.

Quincy Story

One of the most shocking things I saw was the filming, photographing, and prominently broadcasting and pointing scenes with bodies and body bags. The newscaster was more explicit than the images that were aired, saying something along the lines of: the body [of the victim] is supposedly behind me. That is just getting to the point of inhumane behavior.  But as inhumane as it may seem the media giants know that this is just the stuff television is made of.

The nerve the media had to be virtually within the crime scene; without respect for the police and the investigators that were working the scene.  Interfering with police investigations seemed evident on the part of the media.

Publicizing victimizations prior to notification of the victims’ families was a “low blow” and very unprofessional by the media.  There was a big possibility that the next of kin was not notified by the authorities just yet.

Printing the victims’ names and addresses, particularly when the offenders are still at large. Although the exact address was not revealed, the media revealed the proximity of the crime down to a neighborhood and specifically the Quincy Shore driveway home.  For the perpetrators this means an added edge over the authorities, as this information along with the obtrusiveness and possible crime contamination is all they need to get away based on the media portrayal of the situation.

Something else that caught my eye was the improper choosing [of] unflattering or inaccurate terms to describe victims, often sensationalizing the event and searching for and stressing the “negative” about victims. All this while inappropriately delving into the victim’s past. These negative subject matters were related to the possible criminal past of the victim.  All three of these approaches are strategically used by the media in order to sensationalize the story and provide superfluous information that the viewer will buy into.  This is based on different psychological cues like the concept of “criminal killed by other criminals” or the thrill of a murder scene in their city, amongst others.

Both stories present the media’s cruel ways of presenting the story.  In these newscasts, even the most engaged or ignorant viewer can feel, see, or hear that the media is sensationalizing both events, and that some, if not all practices, shown by the media are somewhat debilitating and unwarranted in relation to the victim, victim’s family, or the witnesses of a crime.

Reference

LeClair, D. (2007). What is victimology; The Viano Model for journalistic mistreatment of crime victims. Retrieved September 8, 2007, from Boston University, Vista Online Website: http://vista.bu.edu/webct/

You might also like:

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

2 comments… add one
  • L. Susan Fischer

    Rad,
    I remember you from my group at BU! I am teaching victimology this term in Milwaukee and I was looking up the Viano model so I could use it in my class, and there you are! Wow. Small world!

    Where else can I find the model? I can’t seem to locate it online. I only have our handout from class.

    I’ve joined the blogging world too: http://xoffendersuccess.blogspot.com/.

    Feel free to contact me to stay in touch. I can also be found at http://www.linkedin/in/lsusanfischer.

    Take care!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hi Susan,

      It is a small world. Nice to see you drop by.

      I can’t find the Viano Model anywhere, except the text book.

      I’ll make sure to keep in touch. Take care.

Leave a Comment