Anthony Arnone | October 31, 2022
Professor’s Work Featured by HBO’s John Oliver
Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Andrew Baranauskas often showcases videos in class from media outlets discussing crime. On Oct. 10, while searching on YouTube for material, he stumbled upon a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver called Crime Reporting that naturally drew his attention.
He was surprised to see his name and research cited during the segment.
“It was so weird; I almost never start my day researching on YouTube. I just stumbled onto this clip and I love John Oliver so I clicked on it and less than two minutes in I saw my name,” said Baranauskas.
“Media Construction of Crime Revisted: Media Types, Consumer Contexts, and Frames of Crime and Justice” was co-published by Baranauskas and his dissertation chair Kevin Drakulich in 2018 while Baranauskas was a graduate student at Northeastern University. The study examines the influence of the media on public perceptions of crime and public support for crime policy. It finds that people who view local television news are more likely to believe that crime is rising and more likely to support tough crime policies.
“I feel like my specific study was used to set up the idea that the media does have an impact on the perception of crime,” Baranauskas said. “I was happy with the way my work was cited and he touches on a number of things that I touch on in my Crime and Media class.”
“I feel like my specific study was used to set up the idea that the media does have an impact on the perception of crime.”
Baranauskas’ passion for research started as an undergraduate when he looked at how crime is portrayed in comic books for his honors research project. Over time, his research branched out into television, movies, and other forms of media. While crime in the media is a smaller area of research in the field of Criminology, Baranauskas began to notice overlap in more prominent areas such as crime in urban communities.
“What most of us know about urban communities comes from our impressions shaped by the media,” Baranauskas said. “There are very different ways media talks about crime in the more affluent areas compared to disadvantaged areas.”
Baranauskas continues his research while teaching in the Department of Criminal Justice thanks to the “teacher-scholar model” at SUNY Brockport that encourages professors to pursue research alongside students. His passion for the topic allowed him to start a “Crime and Media” course that has grown in popularity. Shortly after the episode aired, he surprised his students with the clip.
“I walked into class and said ‘John Oliver just released a new segment so let’s watch it,’ and a few of my students caught my name right away when it came on screen.”