Justice Reframed? A Comparative Critical Discourse Analysis of Twitter Campaigns and Print Media Discourse on Two High-Profile Sexual Assault Verdicts in Ireland and Spain

Muireann Prendergast, Fergal Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Analyses of media discourses on judicial verdicts in sexual violence cases offer critical insight into how this topic is mediated. This study explores post-verdict mainstream and social media reaction to two high-profile verdicts in sexual assault cases in Ireland and Spain: #IBelieveHer, launched in March 2018 following the acquittal of four men accused of rape in Belfast, and #YoTeCreo which coalesced online after five men were given a lesser sentence for sexual abuse in Pamplona in April 2018. This study first identifies the stance taken by mainstream media where verdicts were contrary to “popular” opinion. Secondly, it analyses dominant hashtags that emerged on Twitter following both verdicts. Finally, it traces similarities and differences in discourse patterns identified on mainstream and social media platforms across both countries. For analysis, we employed a Critical Discourse Analysis-based theoretical framework (e.g.,KhosraviNik 2017, “Social Media Critical Discourse Studies (SM-CDS).” In Handbook of Critical Discourse Analysis, 582–596) with resources from Framing Analysis (e.g.,Goffman 1974, Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Vancouver: Harvard University Press) for methodological purposes. Findings suggest Spanish print media contained greater debate around legal understandings of sexual violence while the Spanish Twitter campaign was outward-oriented and explicitly feminist. #IBelieveHer displayed a narrower focus, with the “celebrity” dimension to this case contributing to a personalised, less nuanced, discourse on social and print media and more polarised discussion.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Pages (from-to)1613
Number of pages1632
JournalJournalism Practice
Volume15
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2021

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