Media reporting of rape continues to provoke concern. This article focuses on the press reporting of the discovery and search for alleged rapists. On examining nine British newspapers for one complete year (1992), a serious distortion in the media reporting of ethnicity emerges at this early stage of the criminal process. While there is an over‐representation of minority ethnic men accused of rape coming to the notice of the police, the cases identified as involving minority ethnic (particularly black) men as assailants, are much more likely to be reported widely. The distortion is then intensified by associating minority ethnic (and again particularly, black men) with certain types of rape. However, there are important differences between newspapers in their coverage. Furthermore, while media coverage of the search for rapists is a matter of concern, it also needs to be seen as part of the wider process of the social construction of rapists. Nevertheless, the conclusion is that the media coverage of rape tends to distort in ways which may well exacerbate hostility against minority ethnic groups.