Document Type

Senior Honors Project

Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of the perceptions of media professionals on the crime and race-based content created for mass consumption. The depictions of white individuals and individuals of minority racial/ethnic communities varied through the rates of depictions in criminal positions and the language and visuals used in published stories. Given this variation, it was of interest whether the characteristics of the journalists and producers creating and publishing this content has an effect on the variations between the representations of these communities. In order to best analyze this, a series of five individual interviews were conducted with reporters, editors, radio-show hosts, and producers working for Twin-Cities based publications. All interviews were conducted over the telephone during December, 2017. Using previously collected data, these interviews were compiled by previously identified categories to describe the trends in answers provided- with only five samples included in the study, statistical analyses were not performed.

Several overall trends and points of interest were identified. It was found that violent crime was significantly more likely to be published/shown on television news programs than white-collar/business crimes. This variation was attributed to an increase in the visuals available to be presented during reports. While previous studies had found a significant differentiation in the rates in which mugshots were shown, the professionals interviewed reported that the use of these and similar images were being more strictly standardized and regulated. In order to put these findings into perspective, the Jamar Clark case (Minneapolis, 2015) was used as a case-example for comparison. Throughout the interviews, it was determined that social media use and the race/ethnicity of the news media professional had a level of impact on the content produced.