British newspaper coverage of child sexual abuse : relating news to policy and social discourses
This research explores the dominant meanings arising from British newspaper reportage of sexual violence directed at children. The research employs a quantitative and qualitative analysis to answer the following questions: What are the dimensions of child sexual abuse that are covered? How do the media cover these (e.g. as straight news, editorials, opinion columns)? How are offenders and victims portrayed? What sources are cited in stories? What explanations are offered about the occurrence of child sexual abuse? The objective is to: (a) describe the content of press reportage about child sexual abuse through quantitative and qualitative content analysis and; (b) explain the nature of that content in terms of better understanding journalism as a producer of meanings, specifically in relation to coverage of child sexual abuse. In simultaneously identifying and comparing news coverage, the research attempts to articulate the political and ideological functions of language in newspaper coverage of child sexual abuse. It also attempts to develop explanations for the discursive representation of child sexual abuse in the British press, linking news discourse on sexual offending against children to the journalistic practices in news production, the profile of the profession as well as broader prevailing socio-political ideologies about the family, offending, childhood and risks faced by children. A close and systematic analysis of news texts is important to understanding the role of the media in the production of meanings about such a social problems.