Vanessa George: exploring broadsheet and tabloid newspaper representation of a female sex offender

Head, Alice (2010) Vanessa George: exploring broadsheet and tabloid newspaper representation of a female sex offender. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Sexual offending is assumed by many to be a male-dominated phenomenon. Therefore, when a female sexually offends, they are perceived to be violating traditional gender roles and are seen as abnormal and unnatural (Viki, Massey & Masser, 2005). Research suggests that when newspapers report on female sex offenders, they often focus on irrelevant factors (Connell, 1998; Cecil, 2007), with tabloids often representing females in a sensationalised, gendered and emotive way (Lilian, 2008). This dissertation aimed to critically examine how recent female sex offender Vanessa George was represented – with possible differences – by newspaper media at the time of her arrest, by comparing and contrasting popular broadsheet and tabloid coverage. Tabloid (The Sun and The Mail) and broadsheet newspapers (The Telegraph) were examined and compared using a combination of quantitative (content analysis) and qualitative (thematic analysis) methodology. The results showed that both The Sun and The Mail represented George in a sensational, partial and emotive way, often focusing reports on irrelevant factors such as her appearance, sexuality and personal life. The Telegraph generally remained impartial and factual of the case. This supported the dissertation’s hypothesis and previous research suggesting that there would be a demonstrable difference in reportage of female sex offenders between broadsheets and tabloids. It was concluded that gendered assumptions and expectations frequently exist in modern newspaper press, particularly in tabloid newspapers. This has wider implications for societal views on female stereotyping and sexism in criminality.

    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 12:49
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:16

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