Scooped! Media Miss Real Story on Crime While Chasing Sex, Sleaze, and Celebrities

Article excerpt

Krajicek, David J. Scooped! Media Miss Real Story on Crime While Chasing Sex, Sleaze, and Celebrities. New York: Columbia University Press,1998. 230 pp. $24.95.

Former crime reporter David Krajicek (now at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism) says the press is shortsighted in its crime coverage. It concentrates on sex, sleaze, and celebrities while usually ignoring the bigger picture and follows the lead of politicians and law enforcement agencies rather than finding its own evidence. Neither the criticism nor the ignored evidence will shock anyone who knows much about the press and press history.

Krajicek uses catchy turns of phrase, numerous modern press frenzy examples, and relevant criticism to characterize crime coverage. While not a gold mine for historians, Scooped! is more than just another reminder of reporting history work left to be done.

It is valuable as a comparison to previous crime reporting and other criticism and to eighteenth-century crime coverage books, such as Andie Tucher's Froth & Scum. Both books provide brief historical overviews of crime reporting. Historians may find valuable Krajicek's history of crime policy, which helps provide context to crime reporting.

As he explains, the press has always covered crime event-toevent. Journalists since the early 1800s have found crime easy, exciting, cheap, and rewarding. If no local crime is gruesome enough, some big crime anywhere will do. Even before the telegraph, papers used exchanges and mail to import crime stories. As short-sighted as journalism-by-crime is, the press has had little incentive to change. With TV, cable, the internet, radio, magazines, newspapers, and other media outlets, citizens now get more crime covered just as superficially as ever. …