Placing the blame for crime in press reports

Gabriel Weimann, Thomas Gabor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined the attributions of responsibility contained in factual accounts of crime in a number of Canadian daily newspapers. The focus was upon the relative amount of coverage accorded crime suspects and victims, as well as upon the presence or absence of references to the victim's contribution to the offense. Also, examined were the effects of the type of crime involved and the gender of the parties to an offense upon offender/victim coverage and references to victim contribution. As expected, offenders tended to receive greater coverage than victims. The coverage of the offender, relative to the victim, tended to be greatest when the offender was a male and a property, rather than violent crime was involved. The victim's gender did not exercise an effect on offender/victim coverage. In about one‐quarter of the articles, a mention was made of the victim's contribution to the offense. Such references to the victim's role were more likely to be found where the offender was a female, the victim a male and where the offense was violent in nature. These findings about the media portrayals of the respective roles in crime of offenders and victims, as well as the effects of the type of crime and gender on these roles, conformed, in large part, to what is known about the actual dynamics of criminal behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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