233647 Mass media patterns and trends of intimate partner violence reporting

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 8:35 AM - 8:55 AM

April Zeoli, PhD, MPH , School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Research on mass media news coverage of intimate partner violence (IPV) consistently reveals systematic and biased reporting patterns. By portraying inaccurate accounts of the dynamics, causes, and risk of IPV, media coverage may perpetuate social norms supportive of IPV. The present study lays the foundation for a research program focusing on media coverage of IPV. Methods The author was part of a mixed methods content analysis of all newspaper reports of intimate partner homicides (IPH) from 2004 through 2006 in one state. The project entailed systematically analyzing and reporting patterns, trends, and characteristics of IPH media coverage. Results/Outcomes Regarding the framing of IPV (episodic versus thematic), the project found that 60 percent of IPH reports include an episodic frame. Even those articles in which the frame was thematic, the theme was one of interpersonal conflict that of a relationship in which there was tension and not the theme of IPH as a social problem. There were also several problematic reporting characteristics observed: including extraneous, unrelated information that humanizes perpetrators; reporting that the perpetrator was a victim; describing the crime as an outcome of love; describing the violent act as a symmetric event where both the victim and perpetrator contributed towards the outcome; blaming the victim. Conclusions IPH reporting is biased in ways that misrepresent the risk and dynamics of IPV and IPH. These biases may dampen impulses for social involvement or policy advocacy to stop the problem of IPV.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe six ways that news media reporting of intimate partner homicide misrepresents intimate partner violence and homicide. 2. Analyze the frames, language, included information, and descriptions used in news media reports of intimate partner violence and homicide for evidence of bias.

Keywords: Violence, Injury

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I began working to end violence against women inthe mid 1990's. My research examines public policy as a tool through which to reduce intimate partner violence and homicide. I currently oversee research investigating the effects of laws mandating arrest for domestic violence incidents on intimate partner homicide. I participated in all phases of the research being presented.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.