This work falls under the heading of the conceptual area of the power of the mass media and in particular their ability to influence such especially serious and socially significant topics as the phase of execution of punishment, the treatment meted out to convicted criminals, the truth of the information used in criminal proceedings, the sense of social alarm and the public’s sense of security or insecurity. The research project focused particularly on studying how this field is perceived by society. With this in mind, it used a questionnaire to explore the opinions of three groups of interviewees: teachers, white-collar workers and blue-collar workers. The results of the survey proved to be significant, showing evidence of a conscious, critical view of how the mass media tend to over-dramatise and exaggerate events, to take sides in disputes and to be used to convey a blatant bias for political and economic ends. It also revealed their latent potential for shaping people’s opinions and in particular their ability to exert significant influence on the oscillations of the public’s fear of criminal behaviour and social alarm, with the effect above all of amplifying it.