Document Type



Justice Studies Program

Rights Management

Rhode Island College


The question guiding this research is: What are the meanings associated with white-collar crime in the media, and how, if at all, have those meanings changed in the wake of the ‘Bernie Madoff scandal’? This analysis explores how the newspaper article was framed (either episodic or thematic) and what labels were used to describe the crime and actors involved. Articles between 2007 and 2011 were analyzed, covering the year before the scandal to two years after Madoff was convicted in 2009. For framing, this analysis found that, unlike stories on poverty or street crimes which focus more on episodic themes, newspapers used a combination of thematic and episodic frames. However, after the Madoff scandal, there was a slight turn towards specific crimes and criminals – suggesting that newspapers were moving more towards episodic framing. For labels, the newspaper articles suggest at least two major types of labels. One is the fairly consistent association of white-collar crime with complexity. A second is the omission of working and middle class victims when discussing white-collar crime. Further, the use of labels connoting complexity intensified after the Madoff scandal.

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