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IRES Lunch Seminar -Yannik Schenk, UCLouvain
By IRES Lunch Seminar

Yannik Schenk


will give a presentation on

Beyond the Veil of Ignorance: Does Disclosure of Nationalities in Police Press Releases foster Migration Skepticism?



The alleged link between immigration and crime has been amongst the key narratives behind the recent upsurge of right-wing populism all around the globe. Whether the police should systematically reveal offenders’ national origins in press releases is a highly controversial topic. Advocates of systematic disclosure argue that unconditional transparency prevents mistrust in state institutions and media, while opponents point out the risk that systematic reporting of nationality in the context of crime could promote prejudices by suggesting a causal link between citizenship and delinquency. We analyze how different reporting practices influence natives’ perceptions of immigrants. To this end, we collected over 1.5 million police press releases between 2015 and 2020 from 220 local police authorities. We apply text-mining methods to classify offenses and nationalities in individual press releases. We document large heterogeneity in practices across and within German federal states. In a second step, we map indicators of local exposure to geo-referenced survey data on individual attitudes towards migration in Germany. To establish a causal link between police practices and individual attitudes we exploit the conditionally random allocation of cases to authors with heterogeneous preferences within police stations, measured by their historic reporting behavior. In line with recent research on the representation of foreigner crime in print media, our preliminary findings suggest that a systematic indication of nationalities in all press releases would lower concern about immigration. This finding emphasizes the importance of transparency as a suitable tool to dispel fears instigated by right-wing populist rhetoric.


08 March
12:45 - 13:45
1 Place Montesquieu
Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Wallonie Belgique