Reading between the lines : is news media in Fiji supporting or challenging gender stereotypes? : a frame analysis of local news media coverage of violence against women during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign of 2017

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Massey University
Violence against women is recognised as a global public health issue and an obstacle to development, as ending it is inextricably linked with achieving gender equality. The public relies on and believes in the capacity of news media to present them with a ‘true’ picture of reality and the news media are therefore treated as valuable allies in changing the norms, beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate violence against women. In the production and consumption of news, however, journalists employ frames to condense complex events into interesting and appealing news reports, in turn influencing how audiences view particular events, activities and issues, especially when it comes to attributing blame and responsibility. This study employs a frame analysis to identify whether, and to what extent, episodic or thematic framing is used in news articles on violence against women published in the Fiji Sun and Fiji Times during and around the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign of 2017. It showed that episodic framing was overwhelmingly used in the sample, thereby divorcing the violence from its social roots and encouraging audiences to blame the individuals involved, both for the violence itself and for remedying it. This directly contradicts the campaign’s central principles positioning violence against women as a social and development issue that requires every member of society to play a part in ending it. The results, therefore, suggest that changes are needed in how organisations engage with the news media to ensure that coverage of violence against women improves in both quantity and quality.
Mass media, Sexism in mass media, Women, Violence against, Fiji