Social campaigns to social change?

Selina Noetzel, Maria F. Mussalem Gentile, Gianna Lowery, Sona Zemanova, Sophie Lecheler, Christina Peter

The discussion on sexual violence gained momentum in October 2017 after the Twitter hashtag (#metoo) spread globally highlighting the widespread reality of this problem. While this resulted in extensive media coverage, and naturally informed audiences about societal issues, it can also be problematic regarding the media's power to reflect and construct reality. Therefore, it is important to research how societal issues like sexual violence are discussed in media settings. The study aimed to investigate how journalists frame sexual violence in the news (RQ1) and whether such practices have changed in the wake of the MeToo movement (RQ2). A quantitative content analysis was conducted for news articles published in four US newspapers, spanning a period of 2 years - from 1 year before to 1 year after the #metoo tweet (N = 612; Oct. 2016 - Oct. 2018). Results indicate that news coverage on sexual violence shifted from straightforward, single-incident reports to broader discussions. This study contributes to scientific research and journalism practices by providing an overarching view of how sexual violence is framed in the news and the potential impact of social movements on reportage.

Department of Communication
External organisation(s)
Universität Wien, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508007 Communication science, 508014 Journalism
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Communication, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, SDG 5 - Gender Equality
Portal url