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Invisible Victims: Disparity in Print-News Media Coverage of Missing/Murdered Aboriginal and White Women

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Abstract:

Aboriginal women in Canada remain exceedingly vulnerable to violence. Estimates suggest that five hundred Aboriginal women have gone missing/been murdered in Canada in the past twenty years (Amnesty International, 2004; Native Women’s Association of Canada, 2002). However, news media attention to this victimization seems negligible when compared to coverage of missing/murdered, middle-class, White women. Colonial stereotypes which degraded Aboriginal womanhood and idealized White femininity provide a context for understanding current media discourses of female victimization. Critical feminist theories of media, representation, race, and White privilege underpinned a comparison of the print-news coverage of six missing/murdered young women/students (3 Aboriginal; 3 White) from two Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan; Ontario). Critical discourse analysis of print-news coverage indicated stark disparity in the amount, extent, nature, and content of coverage between groups. Missing/murdered Aboriginal women received twenty-seven times less national print- news attention than the missing/murdered White women. Findings also suggest that dispassionate and less-detailed, headlines, articles, and images further render Aboriginal victims ‘invisible others’. By contrast, representations of missing/murdered White women were intimately detailed and emphasized the victims’ innocence and purity, and the profound sense loss felt by the community after their deaths. Important questions will be raised about balance in print-news media, dominant news ideologies, and alternative discourses. Although not the norm of coverage, a small minority of (mostly) female reporters wrote critical articles about the broader societal neglect of Aboriginal women’s victimization in attempts to resist and confront the print-news media’s ‘hierarchy of female victims’.
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Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p239140_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Gilchrist, Kristen. "Invisible Victims: Disparity in Print-News Media Coverage of Missing/Murdered Aboriginal and White Women" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Hilton Bonaventure, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 27, 2008 <Not Available>. 2013-12-14 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p239140_index.html>

APA Citation:

Gilchrist, K. , 2008-05-27 "Invisible Victims: Disparity in Print-News Media Coverage of Missing/Murdered Aboriginal and White Women" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, Hilton Bonaventure, Montreal, Quebec, Canada <Not Available>. 2013-12-14 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p239140_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Aboriginal women in Canada remain exceedingly vulnerable to violence. Estimates suggest that five hundred Aboriginal women have gone missing/been murdered in Canada in the past twenty years (Amnesty International, 2004; Native Women’s Association of Canada, 2002). However, news media attention to this victimization seems negligible when compared to coverage of missing/murdered, middle-class, White women. Colonial stereotypes which degraded Aboriginal womanhood and idealized White femininity provide a context for understanding current media discourses of female victimization. Critical feminist theories of media, representation, race, and White privilege underpinned a comparison of the print-news coverage of six missing/murdered young women/students (3 Aboriginal; 3 White) from two Canadian provinces (Saskatchewan; Ontario). Critical discourse analysis of print-news coverage indicated stark disparity in the amount, extent, nature, and content of coverage between groups. Missing/murdered Aboriginal women received twenty-seven times less national print- news attention than the missing/murdered White women. Findings also suggest that dispassionate and less-detailed, headlines, articles, and images further render Aboriginal victims ‘invisible others’. By contrast, representations of missing/murdered White women were intimately detailed and emphasized the victims’ innocence and purity, and the profound sense loss felt by the community after their deaths. Important questions will be raised about balance in print-news media, dominant news ideologies, and alternative discourses. Although not the norm of coverage, a small minority of (mostly) female reporters wrote critical articles about the broader societal neglect of Aboriginal women’s victimization in attempts to resist and confront the print-news media’s ‘hierarchy of female victims’.

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