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The impact of the media on court decisions

Abstract : Cross-sectional analysis of penal sentencing and the content of French evening television news (at 8pm on TF1 and France2) reveals the influence of media on court decisions. We find that, in the Assize courts, sentences are heavier the day after reports devoted to crime stories, and inversely, shorter after stories about miscarriages of justice. This effect is not due to actual changes in criminality, but to a reaction to television news. It is a very shortterm influence – only reports broadcasted on the eve of the court decision exert it – and it is greater when the television audience is high. Moreover, only information about justice affects the sentence. Other “bad news” – about natural disasters or unemployment – have no effect on the pronounced punishment. Our results also indicate that the media influence court decisions only in the courts of Assize, where professional magistrates and popular juries sit together. Courts composed solely of professionals – correctional tribunals and children’s courts – are not affected. Professional experience thus seems to limit the influence of media on court decisions.
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Contributor : Caroline Bauer <>
Submitted on : Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 11:06:08 AM
Last modification on : Friday, October 16, 2020 - 3:02:49 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-02522865, version 1



Aurélie Ouss, Arnaud Philippe. The impact of the media on court decisions. 2016. ⟨halshs-02522865⟩



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