The “News Values" laying in Sextortion Crime News

Written By Clara Chu

Appearance of different kinds of news on the news media may vary at different frequency and depth of coverage. Some of them are recognized as more “newsworthy". Do you know why crime news about “Sextortion" is worth of reporting? We have gathered the news related to “Sextortion" in Hong Kong appearing on the newspaper during June to November 2017 and have investigated how news values may affect the news selection and reporting in traditional media institutions.

News on Sextortion

From June to November 2017, 15 pieces of news related to sextortion in Hong Kong have been collected. Their date of reporting with the news titles and where they were published have been outlined below as Table 1:

No. Da­­te in 2017 News title Name of newspaper
1 15 November 首9月罪案逾4.2萬宗 網絡情緣案倍增 Sky Post
2 24 October 男子勒索妓女囚10月 報告指悔意流於表面 Oriental Daily
3 12 October 嫖客求妓女 梅開二度 卻只得一度 稱有祼照迫退款 勒索罪成 HK01
4 18 October 80後男子墮裸聊陷阱 遭勒索3萬元 Oriental Daily
5 14 October 墮裸聊陷阱遭勒索 男子報警求助 Oriental Daily
6 8 October 熱戀中無防備 分手變計時炸彈 裸照要要脅趨升女孩惶恐 Sing Pao Daily News
7 8 October 裸聊求助上升 每月兩三宗 Oriental Daily
8 7 October 家計會:3%青年曾祼聊 有女生遭裸照要脅不准分手 Ming Pao
9 29 September 網上勒索案 裸聊佔七成 Tai Kung Pao
10 29 September 網戀一女子 赤裸上身 深情送吻 呂慶耀疑墮裸聊騙局警跟進 Sing Pao Daily News
11 28 September 網傳多段自拍片 郭炳江女婿稱遭威嚇 Oriental Daily
12 26 July 2017年上半年治安情況繼續改善 Hong Kong Government News
13 25 June 18歲仔玩祼聊被拍片勒索 拒付1500元報警求助 HK01
14 13 June 調查:逾半男生 看過色情物品 The Headline Daily
15 1 June 21歲仔遭女網友拍片勒索5000元 報警求助力保不失 HK01

Significant News Values

Threshold / Importance

Sextortion is indeed challenging the moral standard of our society, especially true for the Chinese-based community like Hong Kong. Therefore, information on such crime had a high importance to the community and audience.

Sex-related

Since most victims were usually being captured of some photos or recordings of their sexual images without consent and then got blackmailed, the news stories usually contained some sensational words in the narratives of the process of the crime happened.

「其中一段顯示赤裸上身的呂慶耀對着鏡頭,不停自轉,並以普通話及英語說「嗨,寶貝」,「I love you so much (我非常愛你)!Don’t worry (不要擔心),我一天一天愛着你」,他多度對着鏡頭來個深情獻吻,之後又再自轉,顯得相當興奮。」

Oriental Daily, 28 September 2017

Such kind of expressions highlighted the hidden side of men who may be considered to be naturally acquainted with great sexual demand and depicted as hilarious in front of the readers.

Risks

According to the Police reports regarding cases of sextortion, anyone who used the social media platform might be at risks of falling of a victim or suffering from monetary loss. The Police urged all Internet users should pay special attention to their personal security which may incur fear of crime to audience.

Individualism

Almost all of the cases were only involved one perpetrator and one victim. One of the offender who admitted his defects on his personality and lacked interpersonal skills in handling relationship of opposite sex. That man was portrayed as certain kind of impulsive, irrational, violent which deviated from normality.

Children

When news was related to children, either being offenders or victims, it would attract the public and media’s attention because children were usually seen as innocent and without guilty mind. According to Jewkes (2011), children’s involvement in crime news would be seen as deviation from conventional moral standard, i.e. something wrong with the society. Debates in the society may then arise.

In a case happened in the USA, it was found that out of 230 victims of an apprehended offender, 44 of them were considered as minors (Wittes, Poplin, Jurecic, & Spera, 2016). A research conducted by the Hong Kong Family Planning Association also found youth were engaging in online naked chat and with cases where teenagers fell of victim of sextortion (Ming Pao News, 2017). There were 4 newspapers (news no. 6-8 & 14 in Table 1) did report such research findings in 3 days on 13 June, 7-8 October. Therefore, when crimes were related to adolescents, it may draw more interest of media, readers and researchers than those related to adults. More examples can be found in news no. 13 and 15, the victims being reported on newspaper were young whose age was between 18 and 21.

Celebrity Involvement

呂元祥
Source: Oriental Daily, 28 September 2017

Amongst all the collected articles, it was found that the length of the new reports were much longer with richer content when the victims were either children or person with high social status. As for reporting news related to a celebrity, the news would particularly attract media’s effort in reporting because the public was always interested in the life of celebrity (Jewkes, 2011). As seen from the news report shown above, much detailed descriptions were delivered in the news report to fulfill the curiosity of the audience on the private life of the prominence architect.

Conclusion

All in all, the above mentioned six news values were found to be not exhaustive but most relevant to the crime issue of sextortion. Overall speaking, the number of sextortion related news reports found may not be as much as other crime news, such as violent crimes. This may be explained that different news values may have different weighting to media in their selection of reporting crime news.

 

References:

Jewkes. Y. (2011). The construction of crime news. Media and Crime. 39-71.

Ming Pao News (2017, October 7). 家計會:3%青年曾祼聊 有女生遭裸照要脅不准分手. Available from: https://news.mingpao.com/ins/instantnews/web_tc/article/20171007/s00001/1507359860024

Oriental Daily (2017, September 28). 郭炳江女婿呂慶耀墮桃色詐騙案 重案組跟進. Available from: http://hk.on.cc/hk/bkn/cnt/news/20170928/bkn-20170928204411855-0928_00822_001.html

Wittes, B., Poplin, C., Jurecic, Q., & Spera, C. (2016). Sextortion: Cybersecurity, teenagers, and remote sexual assault. The Brookings Institution. Available from: https://www.brookings.edu/research/sextortion-cybersecurity-teenagers-and-remote-sexual-assault/

Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Walsh, W., & Treitman, L. (2017). Sextortion of minors: characteristics and dynamics. Journal of Adolescent Health.

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