Online Public Response to Dutch News About Money Laundering

In this paper the authors analyze how Dutch Public Prosecution’s press releases about money laundering and underground banking are received by producers and consumers of online news reports. First, a closer look is taken at how journalists (re)framed six official press releases in 75 news reports. It turns out that journalists do not regularly adopt the success frame that the Public Prosecution uses in its press releases. Furthermore, the role of the Public Prosecution Service or the police is downplayed. The moral message that “crime should not pay” receives no coverage in news reports. Second, the authors analyze how the news reports generated 276 online comments.

The authors distinguish three ways in which online commenters respond to news reports; they (1) appreciate, (2) downplay or (3) condemn the authorities’ success. Commenters are particularly likely to downplay or condemn the police’s success. When a news report focuses on ‘underground bankers’, commenters often express a negative opinion about the effort to curb money laundering. It also appears that readers did not always understand the use of a term like underground banking.

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