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Manufacturing Concern: Worthy and Unworthy Victims:

Headline Coverage of Male and Female Victims of Violence in Canadian Daily Newspapers, 1989 to 1992

Jim Boyce

(This thesis was submitted to the Department of Religion & Culture in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree at Wilfrid Laurier University.)

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(This thesis is Copyright Jim Boyce 1994. However, it is an important document, in the context of the Men's Movement, and it has proved impossible to locate Jim Boyce to seek his approval for its publication. He has allowed a summary of it to be published elsewhere on the Web, and he has sent a hard-copy of it to Peter Zohrab, who has -- after some years -- scanned it and converted it into an electronic text document, for the benefit of the contemporary struggle for Men's Rights, and for the benefit of posterity. The original formatting, as regards columns, paragraph styles, font sizes, etc., has been altered in some respects, in the process of editing the output of the optical character recognition process.)


Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction - The Five Ws

Who? Adult Male and Female Victims of Violence

What? The Portrayal of Victims in Headlines

When? From 1989 to 1992.

Where? The Newspapers Indexed by The Canadian News Index

Why? To Discover the Scope, Focus, Accuracy and

Consequences of Coverage of Gender and Violence

Chapter Two: Methodology and Definitions

Creating the Sample of Headlines

Grouping the Headlines

Group One: Literal Headlines

Group Two: Contextual Headlines

Group Three: Connotational Headlines

Group Four: Neutral Headlines

Group Five: Other Headlines

Chapter Three: Quantitative and Qualitative Results

Quantitative Results

Qualitative Results

The Montreal Murders


Chapter Four: Specific Aspects of Headline Coverage

Chronological Trends

Front-Page and Multi-Page Headlines

Headlines From CNI Categories With Gender-Neutral Titles

Headlines From Previous Years

Headlines From the CNI Category Child Abuse

Chapter Five: Explaining the Results

Rates of Violence Against Men and Women

The Emphasis on Family and Sexual Violence

Coverage of The Montreal Murders

The Use of Sources

Chapter Six: Consequences of the Findings

The Media and Reality

Background on the Consequences of Media Coverage

Effects on Public Perceptions

Effects on Public Policy

Men, Women and Violence






Our hypothesis is that worthy victims will be featured prominently and dramatically, that they will be humanized, and that their victimization will receive the detail and context in story construction that will generate reader interest and sympathetic emotion. In contrast, unworthy victims will merit only slight detail,minimal humanization, and little context that will excite and enrage.<

-- Herman and Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent (1988:35)


Can we be so far off the mark about our own social reality?

--Crowley, Sex, Lies and Violence Inroads (1993:132)




There are many people who have helped me with this thesis and to all of them I extend my thanks. I particularly thank Dr. Peter Erb and Dr. Harold Remus for their guidance, Catherine Huggins and Ann Duffy for all of their assistance, and my fellow friends and students for their support, especially Jane Duffy and Mark Chapman. Barrie Zwicker deserves special thanks for reading my early chapters and giving me valuable advice and confidence over many hours of phone conversations. 

I also extend thanks to the members of my thesis committee. To Dr. Michel Desjardins who became a member on short notice and whose written remarks were accompanied by insight and wit. To Dr. lwona Irwin-Zarecka for her steady support and for telling me I am on “the cutting edge” (although we are not sure whether it be that of a guillotine or academic discourse). And, finally, to Dr. Leo Groarke who, for an entire year, has endured the chaos which has surrounded the writing of this thesis. He has been both an advisor and a friend in this endeavour.



I dedicate this thesis to the memory of my Dad, who would engage my questioning mind in debate, and to my Mom, who managed to put up with us.



This thesis examines the portrayal of male and female victims of violence in the headlines of seven Canadian daily newspapers between 1989 and 1992. Headlines were gathered from The Canadian Newspaper Index.

Women’s and men’s victimization was found to receive different types and amounts of coverage. This coverage is inconsistent with known rates of violence against women and men, and I suggest three reasons for the disparities. I conclude by considering the possible consequences such coverage has for public perceptions and public policy.



Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

2 August 2015