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Coverage of Domestic Violence Fatalities by Newspapers in Washington State

Coverage of Domestic Violence Fatalities by Newspapers in Washington State

Abstract

This study explores how newspapers portray domestic violence fatalities, how accurately they reflect the victim' experiences and the broader social problem of domestic violence, and the implications of the patterns of portrayal. Using quantitative content analysis and frame analysis, the authors examined 1998 coverage of domestic violence homicides by all newspapers in Washington State. Overall, the analyses indicate that coverage gave a distorted view of domestic violence and victims' experiences, often supporting common misconceptions about domestic violence. The coverage generally presented domestic violence in terms of isolated incidents, rather than portraying it as a larger social problem. A handful of articles did not fit this mold. These portrayed domestic violence as a social problem with the potential to affect every reader, indicating that domestic violence fatalities can be more accurately portrayed within the boundaries of current journalistic norms and practices and pointing to ways journalists can improve coverage.
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