It has been argued that people's perception of danger in society is directly affected by the crime coverage on the nightly news, which far and away overstates the actual danger to any given individual or family. Stories on the news have increasingly led to a society where families attempt to shelter their members from the outside world, preventing any possible access to violence, including stopping children from going outside, or playing in parks. While I believe that these reports of the over representation of violence on the news are true, I believe it fails to address a major source of fear and possibly even crime.
Sociological studies have shown that violence in today's television drama's inures us to it while actually leading to increased violence. This is especially pronounced among people who "game" as they regularly commit acts of violence virtually, blurring the boundary between thoughts and actions of violence. Other more recent studies have demonstrated that teens who watch Sex in the City and related, heavily sexual, shows are much more likely to be sexually active and become pregnant at an early age outside of marriage. This is not surprising since behaviors are regularly copied in society as a whole when its most influential members practice them. This is true whether it be suicide, pregnancy, violence, drugs, etc. For more on this, see M. Gladwell's "The Tipping Point;" not a very good book overall, but it has some interesting and valuable parts.
And now to my point. Violence and underage pregnancy are effected by television dramas, and I believe that fear is as well. Rather than simply stories on the news, dramas are more creative, contain more suspense, and attempt to incite particular emotions. These emotions carry over into day-to-day life, leading people to distrust one another more and avoid contact with other people or places with which they are not familiar. Dramas are more effective than simple TV news because of the emotions and detail with which they cover murders, rapes, etc, leading people to become ever more creative in imagining a society that is much more violent than it is in reality.