Sociological Forum

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 357-386

First online:

The Newsworthiness and Selection Bias in News About Murder: Comparative and Relative Effects of Novelty and Race and Gender Typifications on Newspaper Coverage of Homicide

  • Richard J. LundmanAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, The Ohio State University

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Previous research suggests that journalists assess the newsworthiness of homicide occurrences using the relative frequency of particular types of murders and how well specific murder occurrences mesh with stereotypical race and gender typifications. However, previous research also is marked by four important limits, including the failure to systematically examine intersections of race and gender. The present research remedies these problems and clarifies existing understandings of selection bias in news about murder in two important respects. Newsworthiness as represented by novelty is an incomplete explanation of selection bias. Instead, news about murder is the product of journalistic assessments of newsworthiness firmly grounded in long-standing race and gender typifications.

selection bias newspaper coverage of murder