Section 1

research

Supported Undergraduate Research

Representation of Race and Gender in News-Gazette Crime Coverage - A Student Research Project from the Fall 2015 “Junior Honors Seminar” (PS 494), Department of Political Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Student Researchers: Ethan Amburgey, Amelia Berger, Griffin Bliler, Nadia Gonzalez, Peter Miles, Aaron Reinsbach, Collin Schumock, and Julie Stankiewicz

Under the Supervision of: Professor Scott Althaus [salthaus@illinois.edu] - Department of Political Science and Department of Communication University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Abstract: This study set out to analyze demographic characteristics of criminal suspects included in crime reporting published by the Champaign (Illinois) News-Gazette newspaper, and to compare the demographics of suspects in the news to the demographics of suspects arrested or jailed in Champaign County. To our knowledge, no such study has previously been performed for any news outlet in Champaign County. Examining newspaper coverage over a three-month period from June 1, 2015 to September 1, 2015, we found differences between the demographic characteristics of Champaign County crime suspects in the news and those of suspects in county arrest and jail booking records from the same time period. Black suspects were overrepresented in news coverage relative to arrest and jail booking records, while White suspects were underrepresented. Our analysis of suspect imagery in the news found that White suspects were underrepresented while Black suspects were overrepresented in news photographs of crime suspects, relative to their proportions in arrest and jail booking records. In addition, males were overrepresented as suspects in crime stories and females were underrepresented, relative to arrest and jail booking records.

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(Posted 12/18/2015)