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God is in the details

Many journalists adhere to the adage "God is in the details," and journalists do a complete job of providing details on certain crime stories.

I was amused when I first saw this quote on the CCJ site, because only a day or so before I read it I heard someone mention that political science majors always say "the Devil is in the details."

I suppose the contrast makes sense; journalists are agents of truth, and thus find details useful for their cause, while politicians can sometimes be agents of trickery or deceit, and thus find details to be weapons easily used against them.

The excerpt above is from Dave Krajicek's "The Crime Beat," an online guide to "Covering Crime and Justice" as a journalist. It comes from one section of the guide that focuses on the skewed proportionality of coverage of crime stories in the media.

Krajicek says that most crime coverage in the news deals with violence that is atypical. He mentions that violent crimes are covered 4 times more frequently than non-violent crimes, and within the group of violent crimes, usually those that are the strangest are the ones that get the most attention. In other words, a story about a parent who is murdered by his or her own child is more likely to receive big media attention than a story about someone who is murdered in a robbery.

Krajicek goes on to suggest that journalists should try to provide more proportional coverage of crime stories, rather than providing an extreme amount of coverage of extreme cases. I can agree with that, though I think that it would be difficult to convince a newspaper editor to start providing more coverage of property crimes than violent crimes, simply because there are more property crimes. Those kinds of happenings simply don't catch as much public interest -- and since journalism on the whole is slowly suffering greater and greater losses in terms of audience, it is already a struggle to maintain public interest at the current level, with the sensationalism as it is now.

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Comments

Thanks, Nancy. I agree that most local papers are forced to cover more mundane crimes than the larger newspapers; however, even within those local areas, I'm sure that the local papers try hard to seek out strange crime stories that stray from the norm.

Great blog entry, Chris. You're a very good writer and you make a great point. How can struggling newspapers survive without sensational stories. It sounds callous to call any crime mundane, but I think the routine crimes--DUI's, robberies, even some murders--are found in the small local papers.

Thanks, Dr. Arnzen. Glad to hear from you!

Your mention of a 'googlefight' between God and the Devil brought some silly images to mind, of a boxing or wrestling match between the two.

Quick aside: I always thought the expression was "the devil is in the details" not "God is in the details"... still not sure about that, but I did a 'googlefight' and God won:
http://googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1=god+is+in+the+details&word2=devil+is+in+the+details

Good post, by the way! -- Dr. A.

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