Outside the outsiders: Media representations of drug use

Taylor, Stuart (2008). Outside the outsiders: Media representations of drug use. Probation Journal, 55(4) pp. 369–387.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0264550508096493


This article is intended to highlight some key themes within the news media's reporting of drugs, drug users and drug-related crime.1 Its aim is to focus on how the news media represent illegal drugs and drug users and their causal links with further criminal behaviour. The article proposes that news media and governmental beliefs mirror each other and have both adopted a stance that serious or `problematic' drug use is dangerous and causes further criminality. It also asserts that both media coverage and policy direction are disproportionately aimed at specific stereotypes of drug users and drug-using offenders, to the point whereby simplistic notions have developed at the expense of a much wider and more complex discussion to the detriment of a holistic drugs discourse. The ramifications of such representations are that users of heroin and crack cocaine are thought of as risk-bearing `outsiders' and are actively excluded from society. The article will draw on a plethora of studies from across the globe through the belief that even in an era of media diversity and culturally diverse drug use, there are common globally identifiable themes within the news media's reporting of drugs and crime.

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