White collar crime and disaster: A content analysis of print media coverage of disaster fraud following Hurricane Katrina

by Bergen, Amanda N., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 102 pages; 3509361


Research on disaster fraud and the media's communication of public risk has significantly evolved in the past several decades. However, most of the academic literature on crime and disasters concerns violent crime and, historically, does not support a positive correlation between disasters and crime rate. The purpose of this study was to explore the phenomenon of print media portrayal of white collar crime during disasters and actual crime reported by the media as a means to evaluate accurate communication of disaster crime risk. Using a content analysis of local print media coverage of disaster fraud attributed to Hurricane Katrina, which affected the coastal regions of Louisiana and Mississippi in August 2005, the connection between perceived crime and actual crime during disasters was evaluated for 4 years following the disaster. A synthesis of the qualitative information gleaned from the select media showed that there was no explicit communication of disaster fraud risk initially between the media and the public but changed in subsequent years. By the end of the four year disaster recovery period, the print media and state level law enforcement gained consistency in classifying and labeling disaster fraud and communicating that crime risk to the public.

AdviserRichard DeParis
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsJournalism; Management; Criminology; Mass communication
Publication Number3509361

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