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Gender in Crime Coverage: A Case Study of a Local Newspaper
Unformatted Document Text:  Gender and crime coverage 5 accompanied by visual displays. Moreover, a large headline size and placement of an article as the lead story signals the prominence of a story and is often associated with sensationalism in reporting. For example, Francke (1978) refers to the lurid headlines of Yellow Journalism and the concocted illustrations of the 1920’s tabloids to argue that visual features may contribute to what we identify as sensational journalism (see also Tannenbaum & Lynch, 1960). Variance in the prominence or relative sensationalism with which crimes committed by men and women are reported suggests gender bias. This leads to research question one: RQ1: Is there variance in the prominence with which stories about male and female criminals are reported? Crime type and the motivation behind the act Existing research shows that crime type and the motivation for committing crime are important dimensions in probing the latent differences in how men and women criminals are framed in crime reporting. Weinmann and Fishman’s (1988) study of Israel's leading dailies is the first to directly apply the “chivalry hypothesis” to print media coverage of crime. This hypothesis asserts that because women are viewed as weak and irrational, law enforcers and the criminal justice system treat them, across the board, in a more lenient manner (Anderson, 1976; Pollock, 1950). In recent decades, some studies have offered partial support for the chivalry hypothesis (Bernstein et al., 1979; Moulds, 1980), while others have challenged the idea (Farrington & Morris, 1983; Edwards, 1984; Eaton, 1986). Feminist criminologists have pointed out that chivalry is not equally bestowed to all female criminals (Chesney-Lind, 1999; Crew, 1991; Feinman, 1980; Kruttschnitt, 1982; Bernstein, Cardascia, & Ross, 1982; Morris, 1987; Rafter, 1990). Chesney-Lind (1978) asserts that “paternalism accrues only to women who conform to a sex role which requires their obedience to men, their passivity, and their acceptance of their status as the sexual property of only one man. 1 The Naylor (2001) study is the exception, showing that the proportion of stories about women committing crimes to be higher than the proportion of crimes committed by men, according to police

Authors: Grabe, Maria., Trager, K. D.., Lear, Melissa. and Rauch, Jennifer.
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Gender and crime coverage 5
accompanied by visual displays. Moreover, a large headline size and placement of an article as the
lead story signals the prominence of a story and is often associated with sensationalism in reporting.
For example, Francke (1978) refers to the lurid headlines of Yellow Journalism and the concocted
illustrations of the 1920’s tabloids to argue that visual features may contribute to what we identify as
sensational journalism (see also Tannenbaum & Lynch, 1960). Variance in the prominence or
relative sensationalism with which crimes committed by men and women are reported suggests
gender bias. This leads to research question one:
RQ1: Is there variance in the prominence with which stories about male and female criminals
are reported?
Crime type and the motivation behind the act
Existing research shows that crime type and the motivation for committing crime are
important dimensions in probing the latent differences in how men and women criminals are framed
in crime reporting. Weinmann and Fishman’s (1988) study of Israel's leading dailies is the first to
directly apply the “chivalry hypothesis” to print media coverage of crime. This hypothesis asserts
that because women are viewed as weak and irrational, law enforcers and the criminal justice system
treat them, across the board, in a more lenient manner (Anderson, 1976; Pollock, 1950). In recent
decades, some studies have offered partial support for the chivalry hypothesis (Bernstein et al., 1979;
Moulds, 1980), while others have challenged the idea (Farrington & Morris, 1983; Edwards, 1984;
Eaton, 1986). Feminist criminologists have pointed out that chivalry is not equally bestowed to all
female criminals (Chesney-Lind, 1999; Crew, 1991; Feinman, 1980; Kruttschnitt, 1982; Bernstein,
Cardascia, & Ross, 1982; Morris, 1987; Rafter, 1990). Chesney-Lind (1978) asserts that
“paternalism accrues only to women who conform to a sex role which requires their obedience to
men, their passivity, and their acceptance of their status as the sexual property of only one man.
1
The Naylor (2001) study is the exception, showing that the proportion of stories about women
committing crimes to be higher than the proportion of crimes committed by men, according to police


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