Monday, March 10, 2008

Media Bias?

I'm interested in the following Enquirer headline:

Stripper Claims Rape Attempt.

Ordinarily, the Enquirer's crime coverage is extremely sympathetic towards alleged victims (yes, this might just be my own criminal defense attorney bias showing). But here, the headline (a) puts the alleged victim's profession front-and-center and (b) marginalizes the accusation by using the word "claims." It's almost as if the headline writer is expressing skepticism about the allegation.

Had the alleged victim been, say, a pizza delivery driver, it's unlikely the headline would be written the same way; instead, it would probably be "Springfield Twp. Man Charged With Assaulting [or Attempting to Rape, or something similar] Delivery Driver." By making "stripper" the subject (gramatically) of the headline, the Enquirer places the focus on the alleged victim rather than the defendant.

Is there something to this, or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Are all allegations of sexual assault that are made by strippers subject to increased media scrutiny in the wake of the Duke rape case? Or is the headline a form of subtle editorialism expressing a not-so-subtle bias about whether someone in the sex industry can be believed--or possibly, whether she can be raped at all?

This is in the online edition; I don't know what's in today's print edition of the paper.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be an idiot or your post will be deleted.