Trial by fire: Media constructions of corporate deviance

Gray Cavender, Aogan Mulcahy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


Some scholars blame the low salience of corporate deviance on a lack of media coverage. Others claim that negative coverage might shame corporations into compliance with regulations. We examine how the news frame used to report corporate deviance affects issues of salience and regulation. We create a conceptual model of crime news frames and use it to analyze newspaper coverage of two instances of alleged corporate deviance: claims about the safety of GM trucks and an NBC Dateline program about the trucks. The coverage was shaped by the standard crime news frame, with its features of attribution and individualization of responsibility, maintenance of moral boundaries, and resolution. The reliance on this frame reinforced dominant ideological definitions of corporate deviance that perpetuate its low salience and limit the use of the media as a mechanism for inducing corporate compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-717
Number of pages21
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

Cite this

Cavender, G., & Mulcahy, A. (1998). Trial by fire: Media constructions of corporate deviance. Justice Quarterly, 15(4), 697-717.