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“No Hatred or Malice, Fear or Affection”: Media and Sentencing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2134-2178
Number of pages45
JournalJournal of Political Economy
Issue number5
Early online date6 Sep 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Jun 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sep 2018
DatePublished (current) - Oct 2018


We explore how television broadcasting of unrelated criminal justice events affects sentencing. Exploiting as-good-as-random variation in news content before a verdict, we find that sentences are 3 months longer when the verdict is reached after coverage of crime. Sentences increase with media exposure to crime, not crime itself, and the effect tapers off quickly. Our results suggest that professional experience and expertise mitigate the effect of irrelevant external information. This paper highlights the influence of noise in the news cycle: media can temporarily influence decisions by changing what is top of the mind rather than signaling deeper changes in offending or societal concerns.

    Research areas

  • Crime, Judicial decision making, media

    Structured keywords

  • ECON Applied Economics

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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via University of Chicago Press at . Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 1.08 MB, PDF document


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