Reports of Criminality: The Aberdeen Journal and the Presentation of Crime, 1845-1850




Pauw, Emily

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University of Guelph


This thesis is an examination of the presentation of criminality to the reading public through a content analysis of crime reports published in the Aberdeen Journal from 1845 to 1850. As a primary source, the crime reports in the Aberdeen Journal allow for an analysis of the occurrence of crime, type of criminal activity and court proceedings as presented to the reading public through the newspaper. A close examination of the Aberdeen Journal in the year 1845 resulted in a record of the size and placement of each crime report within the paper, details of the victim and accused, and variables such as gender, age, location and the general or specific deterrents used in response to the crime. The High Court of Justiciary trials in Aberdeen from 1845 to 1850 were also examined through a comparison between court records and reports published in the Aberdeen Journal. Through this research, I argue that newspapers provide a representation of criminality that differs from the record of crime available from court documents. Furthermore, the Aberdeen Journal provided commentary on the developments in policing method, institutions for young offenders and community perceptions of women, juvenile delinquency, theft and murder during this period. As a result, I propose that in the writing, editing, and organization of the Aberdeen Journal, reporters were active moral and social agents who shaped the meaning of crime in Aberdeen. This examination of the function of newspapers in the presentation of crime to the reading audience adds to the growing field of the history of crime in Scotland.



Aberdeen, crime, newspaper, Scotland, Aberdeen Journal, mid-nineteenth century