Media Coverage of Homicides

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Media coverage of news events can be disseminated to the general public in any number of different ways and media biases often “reflects certain organizational and/or professional preferences or values” (Bennett 2011, 173). In fact, Lundman (2003) points out “that journalists assess the newsworthiness of homicides occurrences using the relative frequency of particular types of murders and how well specific murder occurrences mesh with stereotypical race and gender typifications (357).” In addition, Johnson (2012) felt that the real job of media was to “create a message that…grabs public attention (62).” In other words, can the media grab the public’s attention and hold it?
Take for example the recent case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman was arrested and later charged with second-degree murder following the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. The trial ended on July 13, 2013 in an acquittal after daily news coverage by all the major networks. Was this case sensationalized because of the “intersections of race and gender” (Lundman, 2003, 357)? Or as Lundman (2003) further asked, was it simply the “rare and uncommon homicides” that were deemed newsworthy by the media (357).
Bennett (2011) felt that one of the biggest problems with bias in the American media was its “overwhelming tendency to downplay the big social, economic, or political picture in favor of the human trials, tragedies, and triumphs (177).” Shaiko (2008) alluded to the fact that the American news media is “accountable to the corporate conglomerates” and not “to the readers, listeners, and viewers (205).” Probably the most telling quotation of all can be found in Chapter 10 of The News Media: Communicating Pol...

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...mpaigns: One Day to Sell. Boulder:
Westview Press.
Lundman, Richard J. "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." Sociological Forum 18.No. 3 (2003): 357-86. Print.

Manheim, Jarol B. 2011. “The News Shapers: Strategic Communication as a Third Force in
Newsmaking,” in Media Power in Politics, 6th Ed., ed. Doris A. Graber. Washington D.C.: CQ Press, 421-430.
Patterson, Thomas. "Chapter 10 "The News Media: Communicating Political Images"" We the People. 10th ed. [S.l.]: Mcgraw-Hill, 2012. 327-57. Print.
Shaiko, Ronald G. 2008. “The News Media and Organized Interests in the United
States,” in Media Power, Media Politics, 2nd Ed., Mark J. Rozell and Jeremy D. Mayer, eds. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 205-229.

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