At a Crossroads or Caught in the Crossfire? Crime coverage concerns for democracy in Portugal, Spain, and Italy Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2016

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 22

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1751-2786

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1751-2794


  • This study of crime reporting shows that keeping crime records secret hurts democratic consolidation. While many reporters and journalism experts interviewed claimed to value the presumption of innocence, at the same time, many skirted legal restrictions and ethical codes. Police and prosecutors supplied leaks, and reporters sought further information from witnesses. This porous secrecy leads to publication of rumors and unreliable eye-witness accounts. Four exacerbating factors affect this reporting method: widespread "clientelism," a partisan news media, an alternative definition of "public interest," and weak professionalism.


  • clientelism; crime; journalism; leaks; police; presumption of innocence; prosecutors; public records; secrecy