Child murder narratives in Dutch newspapers (1930-2010)

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Child murder narratives in Dutch newspapers (1930-2010)

Type: Master thesis
Title: Child murder narratives in Dutch newspapers (1930-2010)
Author: Verspoor, Mark
Issue Date: 2017-08-31
Keywords: Child murder
Dutch newspapers
Abstract: How do newspapers write about stories that are truly terrifying? Like the murder of children. This is the underlying thought that drives this thesis. An interest in the phenomena of child murder coverage in the press was sparked when Ximena Pieterse, a 15-year-old girl from The Netherlands got brutally robbed of her life in 2012. The headlines were full of powerful emotive language, the offender described as a “person without a conscience”. A question arose: had newspapers always written about child murder cases in this way? This thesis examines Dutch newspaper coverage of seven child murder cases over four decades; 1930s, 1960s, 1990s and 2010s. Employing a quantitative content analysis on a sample of just under 600 individual newspaper articles to answer the research question: what types of narratives are used by Dutch newspapers when reporting on child murder cases (1930-2010)? This study found that Dutch newspaper coverage of child murders was relatively similar in the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s. The vast majority (more than 70%) of articles written in these decades were composed of institutional narratives, this means that they focused mainly on the police investigation and subsequent trial. In the 2010s this changed. The percentage of articles with a societal narrative soared from 14% in the 1990s to 38% in the 2010s. Societal narratives focus on the response of the local community to the crimes, and concerns about the greater impact on society. While the percentage of articles with a personal narrative also increased from 9% to 19% in the respective decades. Articles with personal narratives focus on aspects such as the impact of the crime on the victim’s family, creating stories loaded with emotions.
Supervisor: Burger, Peter
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Media Studies (Master)
Specialisation: Journalistiek en Nieuwe Media
ECTS Credits: 20

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