Crime in the News: How Crimes, Offenders and Victims are Portrayed in the Media

Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, Vol. 14, pp. 59-83, 2007

25 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2012

See all articles by Jessica Grosholz

Jessica Grosholz

Emory University

Charis Kubrin

University of California, Irvine

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

This study examines the representation of crime stories in the news. Using 71 matched pairs, we examine the constructed elements in the reporting of crime stories between newspapers and local television to document similarities and differences across the mediums. Although considerable work has been devoted to discerning differences in reporting across types of media, little research has investigated how the same crime story “gets told” in one medium compared to another. With matched-pairs of stories, we are able to do this. In this study, we also use content analysis to examine a subset of cases that focus on juveniles to ascertain how atypical victims and offenders are portrayed in the media. Although youth are much less likely to commit crime and to be victimized compared to adults, their stories are disproportionately “the stuff of news.” Collectively, the findings indicate that news reporting follows the law of opposites—the characteristics of crime, criminals, and victims represented in the media are in most respects the polar opposite of the pattern suggested by official crime statistics. This was especially the case in news reports involving juvenile victims and offenders.

Keywords: media, crime stories, news, crime news reporting

Suggested Citation

Grosholz, Jessica and Kubrin, Charis, Crime in the News: How Crimes, Offenders and Victims are Portrayed in the Media (2007). Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, Vol. 14, pp. 59-83, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2028162

Jessica Grosholz

Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Charis Kubrin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Department of Criminiology, Law and Society
Social Ecology II, Rm 3379
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

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