Sources & actors (Justice and Crime Coverage)




judicial reporting, court reporting, representativity


These variables are used to determine whose views and activities are covered in the reporting on justice. A distinction is made between the variable "actors", which is used to measure the description of acting persons, and the variable "source", that captures which persons have a direct or indirect quote.


Field of application/theoretical foundation:

The variable serves - among other variables – as an indicator of the representativeness of judicial reporting.


Example studies:

Haney & Greene (2004); Oehmer (work in progress)


Information on Haney & Greene (2004)

Authors: Craig Haney, Susan Greene

Research interest: The study evaluates aspects of newspaper reporting about death penalty cases and capital defendants.

Object of analysis: “representative sample of local, mainstream (i.e., non-“tabloid”) newspaper coverage” (134)

Codebook: not available

Information on Oehmer (work in progress)

Research interest: The research interest of the study focuses on three sets of questions concerning 1) the selection and representativeness of court reporting, 2) the information function of court reporting and 3) the presentation of court reporting.

Object of analysis: court coverage in Swiss newspapers (Tagesanzeiger, NZZ, Neue Luzerner Zeitung, Südostschweiz, Blick, Gratiszeitung, 20Minuten)

Time frame of analysis: January 2007 – December 2017

Codebook: available (see attachment)


Info about variables


Level of analysis


Operationalization/coding instructions


Intercoder reliability


Haney & Greene (2004)




“We coded source attributions for information contained in the articles. Specifically, we examined whether the prosecution, defense, judges, or law enforcement (e.g., police), or the suspect/defendant or laypersons purporting to be knowledgeable about him or his crime(s) were specifically quoted or cited. For example:

After allegedly stealing Schockley’s 1990 Buick station wagon and items from Schockley’s Lodi home, Hensley went to the Oasis bar on the outskirts of Stockton and picked up a 32-year-old prostitute, police said. (“Killing Suspect Caught,” 1992)“ (136)

- Police/law enforcement

- Prosecutors

- Judges

- Defense attorneys

- Defendants

- Lay witnesses

- Prosecution Defense

Cronbach’s alpha of .73 across categories (5 Coder), not mentioned for individual category

Oehmer (work in progress)

Actors in most covered court case in article

Actors of the trial

Only actors of the (dominant) trial described in the article are coded - i.e. actors involved in other processes are not considered here.


Only those actors are coded who are described as actively acting. Simple statements such as "the verdict of the court" or "in the motion of the lawyers can be read that" does not qualify as actors.


Decisive for the assignment to an actor is the role in the respective process: If, for example, a police officer is accused of abuse of authority, he is coded as the accused, not as an actor of the police.

- Opfer

- Angehörige der Opfer

- Angeklagte(r)

- Angehörige des/r Angeklagten

- Akteure der Staatsanwaltschaft

- Anwälte/ Verteidiger

- Richter/ Spruchkörper

- Gericht allgemein

- Akteure der Polizei

- Zeugen

- Gutachter

- Sonstiges

Holsti .84; Krippendorff’s Alpha: .83 (2 Coder)



Haney, C. & Greene, S. (2004). Capital constructions: Newspaper reporting in death penalty cases. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 4(1), 129–150.

Oehmer, Franziska. Die dritte Gewalt in den Medien. Eine repräsentative quantitative Inhaltsanalyse der Gerichtsberichterstattung Schweizer Medien (work in progress). [Justice in the media. A representative quantitative content analysis of court reporting in the Swiss media].



How to Cite

Oehmer, F. (2021). Sources & actors (Justice and Crime Coverage). DOCA - Database of Variables for Content Analysis, 1(2).



News/Journalism: Variables for Content Analysis