People are, more than ever before, dependent on the unreliable media-industry for information. The possibility, therefore, exists that the media can manipulate the way in which people experience reality. In view of the current discourse on the role of the media in South Africa, this article explores how selected daily newspapers in Gauteng represent the crime reality of South Africa. By taking as a departure point the relation between reality and the represented reality as portrayed by the media (and newspapers specifically) the important role of mediation in representation is discussed as well as the various techniques that can be used to manipulate represented reality in news texts. Journalists subjectively select and organise reality in order to represent it in media texts. Three newspapers, namely Beeld, The Star and Sowetan were selected and then collected during June 2007. Using content analysis, information about the frequency of crime stories, the types of crime, the race of crime victims and the place where the crimes took place were used as criteria to determine which type of reality the three newspapers represent to their target readers. Discourse analysis was used to determine underlying patterns and meanings. The findings indicate that all three papers represent a reality that matches the world view of their different target audiences, each representing a fraction of the South African crime reality. It is argued that this polarises the South African population and prevents a cohesive society. The question of how South African citizens must make sense of a partially portrayed reality remains unanswered. AFRIKAANS : Die oorspronklike Latynse woord, "diurnalis", waarvan die woorde joernalistiek en joernalis afgelei is, beteken "joernaal van die dag". Die joernalistiek word dus allerweë beskou as 'n weerspieëling van 'n samelewing in die sin dat die joernalis die verteller van die verhale is wat daagliks in 'n samelewing afspeel. So simplisties gesien, is die joernalistiek die bron waaruit die burgers van 'n samelewing daagliks op hoogte gehou word met die aktuele sake wat hulle lewens kan beïnvloed. Die joernalistiek, ongeag die medium wat gebruik word, se doel is tradisioneel dus om aan mense inligting te verskaf sodat hulle ingeligte besluite kan neem (Meijer 2001).