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Framing the News: 'bad' mothers and the 'Medea' news frame


Goc, NE, Framing the News: 'bad' mothers and the 'Medea' news frame, Australian Journalism Review, 31, (1) pp. 33-47. ISSN 0810-2686 (2009) [Refereed Article]

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Since three-year-old Madeleine McCann went missing from a Portuguese resort in May 2007, the world's news services have carried parallel news discourses about this event: one focusing on the search for the child and hypothesising about the identity of the "evil" predator who allegedly kidnapped her; and the other focusing on the "bad" parents who left their children home alone. Since Madeleine's disappearance there have been many twists and turns in the police investigation, and even more twists and turns in the ongoing news coverage, with both feeding into a strident public discourse which positions the event within conflicting moral frames. The dominant frame centres on the behaviour of the McCanns, and in particular on the mother, Kate. The media framing of the event adopts a style reminiscent of that used in the predigital era, in speculation about Lindy Chamberlain’s role in the disappearance of her daughter Azaria in outback Australia in 1980. Kate McCann has become the central figure in the public discourse about the missing toddler. She has been judged as either guilty or innocent of her child's disappearance, and depicted in ways which suggest she is a "bad" mother. This paper maps the news coverage and public discourse on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and draws parallels with the 1980 disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain in outback Australia. In doing so, it uncovers a recurrent and disturbing meta-narrative that places both mothers in a deviant "Medea" frame.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Madeleine McCann, Azaria Chamberlain, Medea, bad parents, media coverage, sensationalism
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Communication and media studies
Research Field:Communication and media studies not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Communication
Objective Field:The media
UTAS Author:Goc, NE (Dr Nicola Goc)
ID Code:59139
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:English, Journalism and European Languages
Deposited On:2009-11-19
Last Modified:2012-12-13
Downloads:11 View Download Statistics

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