Images of Corporate Crime: A Media Analysis of the Breaking Stories in the Enron Case

David E. Barlow, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Melissa Hickman Barlow, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

The Enron story provides researchers with a unique opportunity to explore media presentations of corporate crime. In a nearly stereotypical fashion, the activities of the managers of Enron appear to be updated versions of long standing criminal and unethical practices by those who engage in such offenses. On the other hand, the Enron story is an aberration from traditional corporate crime because the actions are so brazen and obvious and because the victims of these offenses are so readily identifiable. The most unique characteristic of this story, however, is the attention it has received from politicians, business personnel, and the media. This paper compares media presentations of his white collar crime to what we know about media presentations of street crime. Specifically, we use categories and themes from our previous research on portrayals of street crime and criminals in the news magazines to explore how these same magazines construct the crimes and criminals of Enron.

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Updated 05/20/2006