Covering Victims in the News: What Makes Minority Homicides Newsworthy?

Jeff Gruenewald, Steven M. Chermak, Jesenia M. Pizarro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The current study builds on the homicide and media criminological literature by examining the newsworthiness of 866 homicide incidents that occurred in Newark, NJ between 1997 and 2007. Recognizing that indicators of newsworthiness may vary by homicide victim gender and race/ethnicity, this study comparatively assesses the effects of suspect, victim, and incident variables on homicides against female, black, and Hispanic victims. A news media distortion analysis is employed which matches specific homicides to their respective local print news coverage. Overall, offense seriousness and victim vulnerability increase the odds of homicides receiving news media attention and being displayed prominently. We also find that different homicide characteristics serve as indicators of newsworthiness depending on victim gender and race/ethnicity. We discuss how cultural stereotypes may shape evaluations of newsworthiness and conclude with implications for theory and future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-783
Number of pages29
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • gender
  • media and crime
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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