Representations of children in a monopoly print medium

Philippa White

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This research explores the representation of children and young people in a newspaper. The objective was to develop a 'case study' profile of representations in a monopoly daily newspaper in a geographically-isolated Australian capital city. News content with a primary focus on people aged zero to eighteen years was collected for a 12-month period, and analysed from a constructionist perspective, using agenda-setting, news source, media framing and critical linguistics media analysis techniques. Distinctive features of the research design include the combination of these four analytic techniques and the breadth of the age cohort in the research sample. A large body of research literature is used to 'benchmark' the primary analysis of data, and to inform the analyses of age, 'race' and gender. These data are consolidated in three thematic frames: the Promotional Child, Victim Child and Deviant Child, which underpin the aggregated profile of representations developed in this research. Numerous images are reproduced from the research sample and appear throughout the thesis, embedded in relevant discussions. The concluding chapter of the thesis foregrounds a perception of children as voiceless, vulnerable and violent characters, featured in a discourse on social control. Key observations highlighted in this research include disparities in the degree of overt vernacular criticism applied to children and other minority population groups; and the over-representation of marginalised cohorts in compromising newspaper images. The extensive use of children in promotional contexts appears to be partially obscured by the altruistic function of non-commercial promotions and advocacy campaigns. 'Collisions' between altruistic values and news values were found to be predictive of outcomes coinciding with the interests of a target audience; negative outcomes for socially disadvantaged children; and consistent 'collateral benefits' for the news medium seemingly regardless of outcomes experienced by other stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008

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