Research published on media coverage differences of missing and murdered women

Kristen Gilchrist, PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, has published some of her research in the latest edition of Feminist Media Studies.

It takes a critical look at the differences between news coverage for missing/murdered Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women.

Exploring differences in Canadian local press coverage of missing/murdered Aboriginal and White women

Kristen Gilchrist

More than 500 Aboriginal women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada since the 1980s yet press attention to this violence is relatively minimal. This paper compares local press coverage of matched cases: three missing/murdered Aboriginal women from Saskatchewan and three missing/murdered White women from Ontario. Quantitative and qualitative content analyses indicate stark disparities in the amount and content of coverage between groups. The Aboriginal women received three and a half times less coverage; their articles were shorter and less likely to appear on the front page. Depictions of the Aboriginal women were also more detached in tone and scant in detail in contrast to the more intimate portraits of the White women. Drawing on feminist media studies and theories of intersectionality, this paper argues that the simultaneous devaluation of Aboriginal womanhood and idealization of middle-class White womanhood contributes to broader systemic inequalities which re/produce racism, sexism, classism, and colonialism. This paper raises concerns about the broader implications of the relative invisibility of missing/murdered Aboriginal women in the press, and their symbolic annihilation from the Canadian social landscape.

Gilchrist, Kristen (2010) ‘“Newsworthy” Victims?’, Feminist Media Studies, 10: 4, 373 — 390.