Constructing Danger: The Mis/representation of Crime in the News


234 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-895686-45-8
DDC 070.4'49364971




Reviewed by T. Dan Gardner

T. Dan Gardner is a lawyer and social policy researcher in Port Moody,
British Columbia.


Constructing Danger is a collection of edited conference speeches on
issues of crime reporting; contributors include journalists, police
officers, lawyers, and academics. The editor, Chris McCormick, ends each
speech with lengthy analysis of some of the media issues raised by the

The speeches themselves range from the insightful and concise to the
overheated and ideology-driven. The reasonable argument made by one
speaker—that female perspectives are too often shunted into
“women’s issues” ghettos—is obscured by bloated rhetoric such as
“the male agenda.” Another speaker insists that prostitutes be
referred to as “women who work as prostitutes,” since the former
term reduces them to their occupation. (What’s next? “Men who drive
trucks” in lieu of “truck drivers”? McCormick’s own analysis is
similarly overwhelmed by ideological goals. He quotes a newspaper
article that describes a convicted sexual assailant’s acts as having
included “kissing” and “fondling.” According to McCormick, these
words imply “consent and mutual attraction,” which, he concludes,
excuses sexual assault “from a certain male point of view.”
McCormick nevertheless solidly demonstrates how the media’s coverage
of rape cases contributes to the myth that most rapes are committed by

McCormick’s contributors are particularly insightful when they speak
from professional experience. A Halifax media-relations police officer
describes the misrepresentations created by reporters who are ignorant
of the workings of the law. The executive director of the Nova Scotia
Barristers’ Society deplores the media’s obsession with the
30-second clip and the tendency

of reporters to lust after a story’s sensational details.

Despite its flaws, Constructing Danger is a useful and interesting
resource in the study of Canadian crime news.


McCormick, Chris., “Constructing Danger: The Mis/representation of Crime in the News,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 2, 2023,