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Distracted by Drama: How California Newspapers Portray Intimate Partner Violence

General Material
Published Date
January, 2003

The publication describes the results of a study analyzing how violence is reported in two nationally prominent California newspapers during the course of a year. Four measures were created to determine "whether IPV got press attention commensurate with its frequency as an arrest in 2000; when IPV was covered, whether the quality of reporting differed from coverage of other violence; whether news coverage misrepresented IPV as more lethal than it is; and whether IPV reporting was more or less murder-oriented than coverage of other kinds of violent crimes." Findings of the study are described in detail to reveal how contemporary reporting portrays intimate partner violence. The authors offer key recommendations for reporters, editors, public health researchers and advocates.

Key Findings:

  • Compared to other violence, IPV did not get press attention commensurate with its frequency as an arrest.
  • Compared to other violence, IPV was treated less frequently as an issue.
  • IPV was presented as more lethal than it is.
  • IPV coverage is more murder-oriented than other violence coverage.
  • IPV reporting rarely blames the victim, but does so more than other violence reporting.
  • IPV reporting rarely deflects responsibility from the batterer, but does so more than other violence does.