Frequency and specificity of referents to violence in news reports of anti-gay attacks

Nancy M. Henley, Michelle Miller, Jo Anne Beazley, Diane N. Nguyen, Dana Kaminsky, Robert Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Two studies were conducted to test the hypotheses that: (1) news reports of anti-gay attacks would use fewer and vaguer referents to the violence than similar stories about attacks against straight persons; and (2) this milder use of referents would cause readers to perceive less harm done and to blame the perpetrator less. A content analysis of two newspapers found that one used far fewer, less specific nominals to refer to anti-gay than to anti-straight violence, whereas the other, based in a more gay-friendly community, did not differentiate significantly by sexual orientation. An experimental study in which frequency and specificity of referents were systematically varied in mock newspaper stories found that greater referent frequency, but not specificity, caused readers to perceive greater harm to victims. The results are interpreted in terms of cognitive processing and within the context of the use of linguistic variation to encode and enforce power differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-104
Number of pages30
JournalDiscourse and Society
Volume13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002

Fingerprint

news report
newspaper
violence
sexual orientation
Linguistics
content analysis
linguistics
cause
human being
Processing
community
Violence
News Report
Specificity
Referent
Attack
Harm
Reader

Keywords

  • Anaphor
  • Discourse
  • Homophobia
  • Mass media
  • Nominalization
  • Reference
  • Sexual orientation
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Communication

Cite this

Henley, N. M., Miller, M., Beazley, J. A., Nguyen, D. N., Kaminsky, D., & Sanders, R. (2002). Frequency and specificity of referents to violence in news reports of anti-gay attacks. Discourse and Society, 13(1), 75-104.

Frequency and specificity of referents to violence in news reports of anti-gay attacks. / Henley, Nancy M.; Miller, Michelle; Beazley, Jo Anne; Nguyen, Diane N.; Kaminsky, Dana; Sanders, Robert.

In: Discourse and Society, Vol. 13, No. 1, 01.2002, p. 75-104.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Henley, NM, Miller, M, Beazley, JA, Nguyen, DN, Kaminsky, D & Sanders, R 2002, 'Frequency and specificity of referents to violence in news reports of anti-gay attacks', Discourse and Society, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 75-104.
Henley NM, Miller M, Beazley JA, Nguyen DN, Kaminsky D, Sanders R. Frequency and specificity of referents to violence in news reports of anti-gay attacks. Discourse and Society. 2002 Jan;13(1):75-104.
Henley, Nancy M. ; Miller, Michelle ; Beazley, Jo Anne ; Nguyen, Diane N. ; Kaminsky, Dana ; Sanders, Robert. / Frequency and specificity of referents to violence in news reports of anti-gay attacks. In: Discourse and Society. 2002 ; Vol. 13, No. 1. pp. 75-104.
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