Over the past week, June 1-8, 2006, less than ten crimes could be found in the newspaper. Most notably, one overdose of drugs, one possession of narcotics, one vandalism, one sexual assault, and one juvenile weapons charge. Beyond that, there were several car accidents, all of which were reported not from a fault angle, but from a "everybody is doing just fine" angle. While some of these charges are notable sexual assault, for instance, this seems like a very low crime rate for such a big area, not to mention an area that does allow gambling.
However, turn to the national view, and a very different picture emerges. Story after story of violent crime, every day. Professor kills student with bikini top, child abduction, Aryan brotherhood trial, man poisoned by anthrax, homeless man commits arson, sexual abuse in the churchthey go on and on. While there is crime in the United States, the unusually high crime levels shown nationally in the Press of Atlantic City, along with the unusually low crime rates shown in Atlantic City proper, suggest that the paper carefully edits crime reports to make the area appear safer.
For example, while crime is listed, it does not have its' own section of the paper; rather it is listed in local news, along with all other news reports, such as Mr. Peanut coming to town. By placing crime reports in with regular reports, the section seems smaller, and reports can be interspersed with news articles about other happenings, taking the focus off of the crimes. The crimes themselves are very played down in the articles, appearing less dangerous than those in the national section. This is done in several ways. First, if the crime involved anyone not from Atlantic City that was mentioned first, and was continually referred to during the article. For example, in the possession of narcotics case on June 4th, the article repeatedly states "the Philadelphia man charged with" making it clear that the criminals are not local, and clearly this is an aberration. Other crimes, such as sexual assault, are reported in a downplayed manner, with no commentary. The article on sexual assault of a sixteen year old by an adult for example, is only three paragraphs. The fact that the one assaulted was a minor was also left out of the title, making it seem less horrific. Around it were such articles as "Atlantic Christian School grads reach turning point" and "Family is the main ingredient at Gilchrist restaurant in A.C." These articles were of equal length or longer than that about the crimes, and are more likely to have pictures, or to appear in easy to read locations in the newspaper. Online, crimes are relegated to the bottom of the page, requiring the reader to scroll down to find them, and do not show a synopsis, which all other reports did have.
However, when it comes to national and world news, all bets are off. Each news report of crime outside of Atlantic City is sensationalized. Pictures of evil looking men, along with graphic headlines "Police: man confesses to killing student" and long detailed stories of the crimes. The stories are at least one page in length. There are detailed descriptions of the criminal and of how the locals felt about the crime. These crimes are graphic, and the descriptions are painfully detailed, along with comments from the police, and others on the scene. One criminal is