Depictions of correctional officers in newspaper media: an ethnographic content analysis

Samuel G. Vickovic, Marie Griffin, Henry F. Fradella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The public relies on the media for most of its information about the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, media depictions of justice actors are not always accurate which, in turn, can lead to distorted images about the system and its operations. Using ethnographic content analysis to analyze 489 articles from major newspapers across the United States, this study seeks to discern how correctional officers and the jobs that they perform are portrayed in print media. The results suggest that correctional officers are overwhelmingly portrayed negatively, with 79.6% of the articles in the research sample presenting one of six distinct negative themes. A typology of these themes is explored in detail, along with its implications for societal support for corrections and correctional officers, especially with regard to the media's potential contributions to officers' job stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-477
Number of pages23
JournalCriminal Justice Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • agenda setting
  • correctional officers
  • job stress
  • media depictions
  • news media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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