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Patterns of deviance in crime news

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Existing research has failed to develop a satisfactory theoretical explanation for journalists' decisions about which crimes to highlight and which to ignore. We proposed that four forms of deviance (normative deviance, statistical deviance, status deviance, and cultural deviance) account for much of the variation in decisions about crime news. To test deviance‐based explanations for crime news, we conducted a comprehensive investigation of Milwaukee, WI, homicides and how two newspapers covered them. We used content analysis and interviews with journalists. The results showed that the newsworthiness of a homicide is enhanced when Whites are suspects or victims, males are suspects, and victims are females, children, or senior citizens. We concluded that status deviance and cultural deviance are important components of newsworthiness and that statistical deviance (unusualness) may be much less important than commonly assumed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

Publication date: September 1, 1997

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