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Journal Article


Richards TN, Kirkland Gillespie L, Dwayne Smith M. Fem. Criminol. 2011; 6(3): 178-202.


(Copyright © 2011, SAGE Publishing)






The news media help shape society's perception of social problems as well as public opinion of victims and offenders. Currently, there is extensive research devoted to the media's portrayal of violence against women but very little examination of femicide (for purposes of this research, defined as the murder of female intimate partners). Using newspaper coverage of femicide cases across the state of North Carolina over a 6-year period (995 articles representing 299 cases), the current study examines the news media's use of direct and indirect victim-blaming language, the sources cited in femicide reporting, and whether femicide cases are contextualized as an individual problem or within the broader social issue of intimate partner violence (IPV). Consistent with previous research, findings indicate that public sources (i.e., law enforcement) were the most commonly cited sources of information in news coverage of femicide compared to private sources (i.e., friends and family); however, domestic violence experts are cited more often than in prior studies. In addition, direct and indirect victim-blaming language is not as pervasive as previous research has suggested. Finally, the percentage of articles that contextualized the femicide as IPV is lower than that found in prior studies of femicide. Implications of these findings and future research are discussed.


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