ERIC Number: ED247581
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Race, Homicide, and the News: A Longitudinal Study.
A longitudinal study was conducted to determine the extent to which the race of homicide suspects and victims influenced newspaper coverage of the crime and prosecution. Based on reader response, it was hypothesized that homicides involving members of minority groups would receive less newspaper coverage than those involving Whites. Coverage for 90 nonvehicular homicides and subsequent prosecutions in two Milwaukee, Wisconsin newspapers was reviewed, as were appropriate police and court records. Story length, thoroughness, and fairness were determined. Blacks and Hispanics were combined into a "minority" category for purposes of analysis. The results did indicate that race influenced how the newspapers covered homicides. However, it seemed to be the suspect's race, rather than the race of the victim that best predicted how the story was covered. All other things being equal, homicides allegedly committed by Blacks or Hispanics were likely to be covered less extensively than homicides allegedly committed by Whites. This finding does not prove that the Milwaukee newspapers downplayed minority homicide because they are racist or because they did not value the lives of Blacks and Hispanics. At least three plausible alternate explanations should be considered: (1) newspapers allocate space and staff effort to homicides in inverse proportion to the frequency of homicide among certain identifiable community subgroups, (2) newspapers are engaged in a benign effort to downplay news that reflects negatively on minorities, or (3) newspapers allocate more resources to stories they feel would be of greater interest to readers. (HTH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Homicide; Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (67th, Gainesville, FL, August 5-8, 1984).