The Construction of Crime News by the Media: A Class Activity


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Research suggests there is a disconnect between crime-related perceptions and realities in the United States. For example, many students enter social science courses believing that violent crime rates are increasing, when in fact the opposite is true. This class activity encourages students to critically analyze the media as a “filter” of information rather than as an accurate reflection of reality. Students begin by examining the concepts of agenda-setting and framing. Then, in small groups they will utilize criteria established by Jewkes and Linnemann (2017) to investigate and categorize what makes the news in both local and national media outlets. They will compare their findings to those of their classmates to develop a broader understanding of the news-making process. Finally, they will assess their findings with regard to the media as a “filter” and the emotions (e.g., fear) produced by the distorted news-making process.


Resource Type(s):
Class Activity 
Crosby Hipes 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Criminal Justice 
Class Level:
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Illustrate the role of the media in filtering and shaping reality
Assessment 1:
The instructor will highlight the agenda-setting and framing functions
Goal 2:
Identify and categorize crime-related news-making criteria
Assessment 2:
The instructor will present the criteria identified by Jewkes and Linnemann (2017), and provide explanations and examples; Students will analyze news headlines and evaluate whether they meet the criteria
Goal 3:
Relate examples to the news-making process more broadly; assess the role of the media and the culture of fear
Assessment 3:
As a think-pair-share with their small groups, students will analyze their findings from the activity by responding to and discussing questions; Students will evaluate effects of this news-making process

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Constructing Crime News. Worksheet.050520.docx