The media view of victimization varies widely concerning the context, the case or issue, and the specific media outlet. This results in a variety of ways on how victimization is presented. Sensationalism is one case where media outlets sensationalize the victims to gain the readers’ attention. Such involves exaggerating the aspects of the issue through emotional language and focusing on the dramatic matters associated with the story to achieve engagement. Another case is that of sympathetic portrayal, where the media outlets tend to portray the person affected in a sympathetic light by showing how they suffered and how they struggled in an attempt to gain the readers’ support and empathy. Such cases are usually made in the events of natural disasters, personal tragedies, or occurrence of accidents. Another perspective is blame and responsibility, where media outlets present the person to blame for the case being reported. Such can lead to debates on accountability issues and the potential legal and societal changes to change future instances of victimization.
Media victimization also points to the social and political contexts where the media portrays victimization in the broader social and political domains. Such includes discussing systemic issues, inequality, discrimination, and the implications of other victimization-related policies. There is also the issue of group vs individual victimhood, where the focus of the media outlets ranges from the case groups or individuals involved in the specific crime. For instance, they may focus on the issues affecting minority groups in the community or the particular experiences of a single person. There is also the case of empowerment and resilience, where they show the individuals who have been victimized, overcame the diversity, and found strength in resilience. Such issues help in inspiring the readers or other people who might be facing similar challenges. Sensitivity and ethical consideration are also other issues in victimization where media outlets tend to handle some instances with sensitivity as well as ethics to avoid such cases as disclosing personal information to prevent trauma to the victims. Lastly, there is the issue of bias and framing, where certain media outlets tend to have a predisposition to specific stories, influencing how they portray certain stories. Such affects the presentation of the information and the overall conclusions from the events.
Media views of victimization vary widely, depending on the media outlet, the reports involved, and the targeted audience. There is a need to have media literacy for the consumers to ensure that readers can evaluate and interpret the information presented to them and understand how the victim is portrayed through different contexts. This research focuses on the specific case of the BBC report on murder cases and bias by the media. A summary of the crime is presented as an analysis of the bias, a description of the news source, the influence of the media on the perception of crimes, and a defense of the position.
Summary of the crime
The article discusses two cases of femicides and highlights the differences in the way the media covered the content and how society viewed the two victims from the presented reports. The two victims in this case are Alexandra Inshina and Olga (Mohan & Zatari, 2022, para 12). Femicide is a type of murder that relates to women due to their gender affiliation. The article presents how the media shows and reacts specifically to these cases.
Alexandra Inshina was a 35-year-old single mother from Russia (Smith, 2021, Para. 1). She is described as a woman who was excited by her life, work, and new love interests. Inshina was murdered brutally after she had a meetup with a man whom she had met through a dating application. The community and her close friends mobilized the case’s occurrence, which led to receiving comprehensive coverage in the media. The murderer or the offender was identified as an ex-convict who had many years in prison after committing many crimes and being released from jail.
The second case is that of Olga, a young mother with ambitions of developing her career to become a TV star. She was defined as being drowned in prostitution, which most of her friends believed that she was misled to do. They stated that she had a perception that through that direction, she would land a career in the entertainment industry (Mohan & Zatari, 2022, para. 2). The offender was a 53-year-old man who, according to police, had a history of engaging in different crimes. However, the case of Olga did not receive wide media attention. Also, some of the media outlets were shown to use derogatory language in addressing the victim.
The two cases presented in the article offer a striking scenario of how the media portrays victims. It further shows how societal attitudes can differ depending on the victim’s background and career. The case of Alexandra received attention and sympathy from the public. In contrast, the case of Olga received less empathy, and it was further reported using derogatory language in some media outlets. The difference underscores the need to have a broader understanding of the case of femicides and how to handle the victims. The information presents a more comprehensive understanding of the specific homicide and a more comprehensive framework of understanding such crimes, which have been spearheaded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Mohan & Zatari, 2022, para. 7). The framework has been shown to record the respective cases of femicides and further raise awareness on the resolution and education on the prevalence of the rising number of cases.
Analysis of any bias in reporting elements of the crime, e.g., who was interviewed, the credibility of witnesses, and the rhetoric used: polemic vs. scientific.
The media is the primary source of information for the public in getting information about current issues around the world. How the information is presented to the public influences their perception of the reported problems. Bias is the presentation of information twisted to achieve the interest of the specific reporting party. When stakes are involved, the media personality can turn the data to push for the information they want to present to the public. Also, where there is a conflict of interest between the reporting entity and the government, the information can be presented with bias to suit the message they want to provide to the government.
Narrative selection bias
The case of Alexandra is presented as relatable and sympathetic, with a lot of emphasis on how responsible she was as a single mother and her success in her career. The portrayal of the media is that of a brutal crime victim, showing how popular she was, indicating her beauty and the overall shock of her being killed by a repeat offender. The presented narrative sparks the case of empathy on the part of the reader and paints a clear picture of the innocent life that was lost (Vijesti, 2022 Para. 4). The reader is left with a definitive conclusive case that portrays her as a good human being who did not deserve the offense committed against her.
On the other hand, the case of Olga is that which highlights her engagement in sex work, and this presents her in a negative light. The choice of language by media outlets, such as referring to her using derogatory language and focusing on her details of the work, leads to a case of stigmatization of sex workers in general (Mohan & Zatari, 2022, Para. 10). The plantation of such information can lead to a case of less empathetic response from the readers and the society and further leads to societal prejudice.
Interviewed individual bias
In the case of Alexandra, the friends have been prominently featured in interviews in many media outlets. They were given an opportunity to provide a personal insight into her characters and present the impacts that the death had on them and the community in general. The interview presents Alexandra as a relatable figure whose death resulted in a considerable loss to society in general (Mohan & Zatari, 2022, para. 2). Through the media choice to interview her close friends brings up the case of empathy towards the media coverage.
There are scarce interviews which have been conducted with the friends of Olga. The presented narrative does not provide any personal insights into her life, and the focus is made on her participation as a sex worker. The overall decision by the media to limit the information to a limited group of individuals tends to bring up the stereotype. The case further leads to a broader understanding of the life of Olga besides her professional life. This leads to a lack of empathy despite her being a victim.
Credibility of witness’s bias
In the case of Alexandra, most of whom were the friends who planned the search parties have been shown as reliable sources. There needs to be a critical analysis of whether these witnesses’ information is verifiable. The reliability of these witnesses, however, presents a case of credibility as they were involved in what led to her death. This shapes the narrative, which is based on the involvement of the community as well as the concern raised of a missing person.
The case of Olga does not have witnesses, which discredits the information presented by not highlighting her friends or close family members who could have provided insight into life beyond the case of stigma. This case, in one aspect, can contribute to skewed representation through the circumstances of the murder. The overall presentation is the long-term definition of bias from the witness’s perspective due to a lack of credible sources.
The rhetoric used in the case of Alexandra is empathetic and sorrowful, which shows the cruelty of the crime. The media portrays her as a “normal young woman,” representing her innocence. They further indicate that she was a mother who could be “any of us, “which is a narrative that can contribute to empathy and engagement with the respective case. The rhetoric used shapes the reader’s view of the victim’s innocence.
The rhetoric in the case of Olga is harsh and presents a case of judgment where there is the use of derogatory terms. Terms used such as “whore” and framing her murder as that which is brought about by her engagement as a sex worker. The case leads to the readers developing stereotypes due to the presentation of the information. This can lead to blame on the victim, which diverts the attention of the reader from the systemic issues that led to the murder.
Polemic vs. Scientific Rhetoric
In the case of Alexandra, the reporting presented is scientific and factual. The reporting focuses on the respective events that led to her murder as well as the subsequent investigation. Despite the presence of information, the media relies on information that is verifiable. This leads to a balance between human interest and factual reporting.
In the case of Olga, the reporting tends to lean more toward a controversial direction. There is an incorporation of judgmental language in the reporting, as well as sensationalized details regarding the victim’s personal life. This approach leads to a more engaging approach towards the case of sensations (Mohan & Zatari, 2022, para. 3). However, there needs to be more nuance and objectivity in the report compared to the case of scientific reporting.
Through the analysis, it is evident that there are multiple biases in the way the media report cases of femicide, as indicated in the case of Alexandra and Olga. The bruises in this case and how the narratives are created, the interviewees chosen, the rhetoric used, and the witness credibility can bias the information presented. The presented disparity in the way media covers such news sources results in a skewed public perception and can further lead to cases of stereotypes. Such can result in bringing hindrances to the efforts made to address the broader issues associated with femicides. It is, therefore, important for media outlets to identify such biases to bring a balanced perception and further understand the overall complexities that relate to the cases of gender-based violence.
Describe the news sources carrying out the story, e.g., local, national, and international sources.
Many local and international news sources have covered the story of Alexandra Inshina and Olga’s femicides. The presentation provides varying degrees of coverage and the perspective of the cases (Mohan & Zatari, 2022, para. 10). The news outlets each have different perspectives and objectives, which makes the presented data have a unique direction depending on the goals of the media outlets.
Russian media outlets have extensively covered the two cases because of the events in the country. The media outlets include regional newspapers, online platforms, and television stations. The outlets have an essential role in presenting news to the specific communities affected by the specific cases. They also provide relevant details, such as the progress of the police investigations.
Another platform is the community-based channels, such as case of VKontakte, one of Russia’s most used social media sites. Many individuals have applied these sites to develop search parties and share information, showing a case of collective grief (Vijesti, 2022). The platforms are used in the provision of direct links to the community. They further help in giving real-life updates, and this allows the members to relate to the story at a personal level.
BB is an international news organization that broadcasts information through print, online, radio, and television. The platform provides a global perspective regarding the occurrence of suicides. The overall coverage of the report by BBC World Services and its counterpart in Russia, BBC Russian, helps close the gap between the reporting on a local to an international audience. The case further presents an in-depth analysis, case of contextualization, and similar comparisons in such cases around the globe. The international coverage brings about a broad understanding of the femicide cases as they pertain to the global case.
Describe if the media influenced you or your associates regarding the crime, and explain and defend your position.
The presented media position in reporting the case is multifaceted and influenced my position regarding femicides. One way the media affected me was framing and biased positions where the media has been shown to emphasize certain cases while downplaying others. In the case of Alexandra Inshina and Olga, the perception presented through the media outlets framing the narrative can significantly impact public opinion. The negative implication of Olga’s life through the disproportionate media coverage of the involvement of sex work and such can lead to stigmatization as well as victim blaming, and this influences the perception of the crime.
Another aspect that affected my perception is the emotional impact where it evoked emotions. This is because some of the media reporting involved the personal details of the victim as well as the brutality of the crime. The Presentation of Alexandra, the presentation of her as a responsible mother, can result in empathy as well as sadness. On the contrary, the case of Olga can also result in judgment and this results in minimal empathy.
Another case is that of shaping the public discourse where societal issues such as femicide are presented, and the public is dedicated to the same. Depending on the tone and content coverage, such information presents a nuanced understanding of the broader problem; in other cases, it can lead to perpetuated stereotypes and biases. The case of Alexandra emphasized the systemic issue and encouraged discussions on society’s relevant needs towards reducing such cases. However, the case of Olga resents a stereotype that leads to the issue not being taken seriously.
The case of media reporting shows a stance or position that can help influence activism and advocacy. Where the media has discussed the systemic changes that can be used to address femicides, this can have positive impacts. Individuals, as well as organizations, can join hands towards activism as well as advice on human rights. Alexandra’s case can help call for activism, but Olga’s case needs to have empathy and push for such actions.
Mohan, M., & Zatari, A. (2022, May 15). A tale of two femicides – and media bias. BBC News. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60648239
Smith, J. (2021, June 11). Fake taxi driver was convicted sex predator ‘who stabbed mum to death after pub’. Daily Star. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/fake-taxi-driver-convicted-rapist-24296326
Vijesti. (2022). Aleksandra and Olga – two terrible stories about femicide and biased media. vijesti.me. Retrieved November 10, 2023, from https://en.vijesti.me/BBC/604782/Aleksandra-and-Olga%2C-two-passionate-stories-about-femicide-and-biased-media