The Criminal is Always the Foreigner?! A Case Study of Minority Signification in German Crime Reporting

Azade Esther Kakavand, Damian Trilling


Prejudices against minorities are amplified by distorted media coverage that highlights these groups disproportionally in crime coverage. But while the specifications of alleged criminals’ affiliations to minority groups—so-called minority signification—has been studied after key events and between outlets, no research has yet investigated changes over a longer time, including different key events and outlets. Using a partly automated content analysis, our research fills this gap with a case study of minority signification in Germany from 2014 to 2019. We show that first, culturally more distant nationalities are slightly overrepresented while European nationalities are underrepresented in crime news compared with German crime statistics. Second, some spikes in the data could be linked to key events but others remain unexplained. Third, the political-right newspaper mentions minority affiliations most, the tabloid second, and the political-left outlet mentions them least. Surprisingly, this pattern changes over the years.


minority signification, key events, automated content analysis

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