What is the nature of media representation of mentally disordered offenders?

Huntington, Tracie (2008) What is the nature of media representation of mentally disordered offenders? MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Mentally disordered offenders are routinely cited as being responsible for levels of dangerous crimes and responsible for many high profile murderers. It is reasonable, therefore, for those who consider their behaviour to be deviant to want to set themselves apart from people they consider to represent this mad and dangerous minority. This study aims to look at the extent to which the popular press support this setting apart and or promote it and how. This was achieved by examining and analysing news copy related to reports of events concerning those deemed to be mentally disordered offenders either by popular consensus, the medical profession or the press. Four newspapers were investigated, two tabloids and two broadsheets, to see if there were differences within their style or reporting that promoted or supported negative stereotypes of the mentally disordered. Foucouldian discourse analysis was deemed appropriate for the analysis of the news copy. The initial hypothesis was that there would be differences in the subjective language used by broadsheets and tabloid newspapers and that this might create a causal relationship between language and representation in the media, leading to a negative portrayal of offenders. Whilst the first part of the hypothesis was correct insofar as the tabloids language was more subjective a specific causal relationship could not be established upon that basis since both the tabloids and the broadsheets set out and achieved the same objective, despite variations in the level of subjective language. However, this essay concludes that there is a demonstrable difference in the use of subjective language between the tabloid newspapers and the broadsheet newspapers and this does result in a negative portrayal of the mentally ill.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2011 12:48
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:14
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/622

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