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Crime in Television News: Do News Factors Predict the Mentioning of a Criminal’s Country of Origin?

Mass Mediated Representations of Crime and Criminality

ISBN: 978-1-80043-759-3, eISBN: 978-1-80043-758-6

Publication date: 28 May 2021


Purpose: Mentioning a criminal’s country of origin in crime news is a divisive and much-discussed issue among both journalists and members of society. Scholars assume that mentioning a criminal’s foreign origin could develop and maintain prejudices against individuals with a migrant background among news recipients. However, until now, no attention has been paid to what increases the likelihood that a journalist does or does not mention a criminal’s country of origin when reporting on crimes. Methodology/approach: One possible explanation is that the frequency and intensity of specific news factors could lead to mentioning a criminal’s origin, since increased importance of a news story is usually assigned when many high-intensity news factors occur. Even though numerous studies have determined the frequency of specific news factors in (crime) news, the explanation hypothesized in this chapter has not yet been examined. To investigate this supposition empirically, a quantitative content analysis of four German prime newscasts (n = 290), including public and private broadcasts, was conducted in the current study. Findings: The findings indicate that mentioning criminals’ origins is still common practice in journalism; furthermore, criminals with foreign origins are explicitly represented as foreign almost ten times more often than German-origin criminals are explicitly mentioned as German. News factors such as personalization, location, and influence show some effects of positively predicting journalistic mentioning of a criminal’s country of origin.



Brill, J., Guenther, L., Ehrhardt, W. and Ruhrmann, G. (2021), "Crime in Television News: Do News Factors Predict the Mentioning of a Criminal’s Country of Origin?", Wiest, J.B. (Ed.) Mass Mediated Representations of Crime and Criminality (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 21), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 31-48.



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