Presentation Title

The Picture Tells the Story: Photographic Depictions of Female Offenders in Front-Page Newspaper Stories

Advisor Information

Pauline Brennan

Location

UNO Criss Library, Room 112

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

6-3-2015 2:30 PM

End Date

6-3-2015 2:45 PM

Abstract

Most examinations of media portrayals of crime and offenders focus on the textual narratives of crime stories, and these studies generally suggest that racial and ethnic minorities are inclined to be described as dangerous, crime prone, druginvolved, and otherwise socially-troubled. But, one may question the findings from such research after one considers that most people do not read news stories in their entirety. Rather, most consumers look only at photographs, captions, and headlines; most stop short of reading an actual crime story. Considering this, we examined front page news stories about female offenders and focused on whether the photographs, captions, and headlines that accompanied these stories were negative, neutral, or positive. We found that these three elements, alone and in tandem, were more likely to be negative for minority women than for white women; a higher percentage of the stories about minority women included a negative photograph, a negative caption, and an unfavorable headline. Our findings are consistent with notions underlying the cultivation of implicit racial and ethnic bias in our society and may help to explain the disproportionate overrepresentation of minority women in the criminal justice system.

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Mar 6th, 2:30 PM Mar 6th, 2:45 PM

The Picture Tells the Story: Photographic Depictions of Female Offenders in Front-Page Newspaper Stories

UNO Criss Library, Room 112

Most examinations of media portrayals of crime and offenders focus on the textual narratives of crime stories, and these studies generally suggest that racial and ethnic minorities are inclined to be described as dangerous, crime prone, druginvolved, and otherwise socially-troubled. But, one may question the findings from such research after one considers that most people do not read news stories in their entirety. Rather, most consumers look only at photographs, captions, and headlines; most stop short of reading an actual crime story. Considering this, we examined front page news stories about female offenders and focused on whether the photographs, captions, and headlines that accompanied these stories were negative, neutral, or positive. We found that these three elements, alone and in tandem, were more likely to be negative for minority women than for white women; a higher percentage of the stories about minority women included a negative photograph, a negative caption, and an unfavorable headline. Our findings are consistent with notions underlying the cultivation of implicit racial and ethnic bias in our society and may help to explain the disproportionate overrepresentation of minority women in the criminal justice system.