The meaning of murder: newspaper framing of hate crimes against lesbians.

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The overall purpose of this study is to assess the representations of lesbians within United States news print media to examine the effect these representations can have on societal level ideologies. Using two separate incidents of hate crimes resulting in death, this study looks at newspaper articles from two distinct locations (North Carolina and Florida). The 1990 murder of Talana Quay Kreeger and the 2010 murder of Courtney Elizabeth Bright are analyzed in order to illustrate the divergence between these crimes based on location and time. Although lesbians have been identified in both government statistics and previous research as being less likely to experience hate crimes than gay men (Jacobs & Henry, 1996; Stotzer, 2012), the news media depictions of these crimes may give insights into the under-representation of lesbians. Findings from this study suggest that hate crimes against lesbians in newspaper reports are more likely to discuss the victim’s sex instead of their sexuality, causing the lesbian as a victim to become invisible. In other words, by failing to properly depict the victim’s sexuality as being a factor in the crime, the rates of hate crimes against lesbians are less likely to be acknowledged by wider society. Results of this study therefore contradict findings presented within official government hate crime statistics, suggesting that current methods of collecting data may be unable to properly account for lesbian victimization due to the dual identities they hold.
Media, Hate crimes, Heterosexism, Framing, Lesbians