Exploring Australian journalism discursive practices in reporting rape: The pitiful predator and the silent victim

Michelle DUNNE BREEN, Patricia EASTEAL, Kate HOLLAND, Georgina Sutherland, Cathy Vaughan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This article draws on the qualitative research component of a mixed-methods project exploring the Australian news media’s representation of violence against women. This critical discourse analysis is on print and online news reporting of the case of ‘Kings Cross Nightclub Rapist Luke Lazarus’, who in March 2015 was tried and convicted of raping a female club-goer in a laneway behind his father’s nightclub in Sydney, Australia. We explore the journalism discursive practices employed in the production of the news reports about the Lazarus trial. Our analysis shows how some lexical features, quoting strategies and structuring elements serve to minimise the victim’s experience while emphasising the adverse effects of the trial on the accused. Furthermore, we demonstrate how such practices allow for the graphic representation of the attack in a salacious manner while minimising the impact of the crime on the victim by selectively referencing her victim impact statement. We found some differences between print and online news stories about this case, some of which may be attributable to the greater space available to the telling of news stories online. We conclude that in news reporting of the Lazarus case, routine journalism discursive practices, such as the inverted pyramid news-writing structure and decisions about who and what to quote, serve simultaneously to diminish the victim’s experience while objectifying her. These results build on international findings about media reporting practices in relation to violence against women and add substantially to what we know about these practices in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241– 258
Number of pages18
JournalDiscourse Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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