Media Coverage of Incarceration: Recurring Themes and Common Sources

Sharon Lynn Boehlefeld, University of Wisconsin - Madison

ABSTRACT
While much research into media coverage of criminal justice topics has already been conducted, little has been done in the area of incarceration coverage. A preliminary content analysis of stories in smaller Illinois daily newspapers suggests that institutional issues, such as staffing patterns, and construction plans are among the most frequent in newspapers. Matters concerning inmates are less frequently discussed. More stories about jails appeared than did stories about prisons. Sources used in stories were most frequently officials, especially from law enforcement and local government. About one-quarter of stories, however, presented material with no clear source.

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Updated 05/20/2006