All the News Unfit to Print: A Content Analysis of Corporate Offense News Coverage

Marny Rivera, Southern Oregon University

The purpose of this research study was to assess and measure the quantity and quality of news coverage on corporate offenses. A content analysis of corporate offense accounts covered in the New York Times was conducted to measure the newsworthiness of these stories and the extent to which the stories discussed serious harm resulting from corporate wrongdoingk the intent of the corporate actor and the criminal justice or regulatory response to the wrongdoing. A substantial number of stories were uncovered during the years under analysis, but overall, these stories were not very newsworth in terms of their page location, headline size, story length or pairing with a picture or chart. Regarding the content of the news stories, few suggested any indication of intent, present at the time of the corporate wrongdoing. Likewise, a smaller number of stories communicated serious harm other than simply illness, injury, or no harm whatsoever. From this research, it can be concluded that the content of corporate wrongdoing news stories does not parallel that presented in news stories of street crime. More resarch is necessary in order to specify the relationship between media coverage, the public's perception of corporate wrongdoing and policies designed to regulate corporate offenses.

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Updated 05/20/2006