9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN04 Sociology of Children and Childhood

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Open Stream Building II, C6.01

Portraits of children from Europe in the Portuguese press

More concerned with subjects affecting the social order than they would have been in other times, newspapers today give a special emphasis to subjects concerning childhood. At least, since the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNICEF), various domains of social life, like health, education and justice, reclaimed reiterated attentions on the development of the human being in its first years of life.
More aware, thus, of thematic concerning the child, journalists have been contributing so that for childhood to become a visible issue in the public space. In addition, the visibility of judicial affairs is spreading and becoming truthfully mediated, especially when the topic is children at risk. In fact, child maltreatment is today, probably one of the most frequent topics of news on children, at least in Portugal.
Considering the universality of this issue all over the World, we seek, for this paper, to know when European children become items of news. For which reasons does childhood gain an informative potential in transnational terms?
To answer these questions we are analysing all 2008 editions of four Portuguese newspapers in terms of textual information as well as of photojournalistic reports. Selected daily by a lexical criterion, news reports are classified in a database for content analysis. We aim so to estimate the frequency of stories concerning children, as well as to analyse the story topics and the geographical origin of the issue or of the happening. We will also be able to examine for which topics newspapers use photographs and when the reports come in the front page.
This research is part of a project we are carrying out at University of Minho under the title ?Representations of childhood ? media discourses on children at risk?. Focused on the characterisation of news on children, the identification of actions, agents and contexts considered to be of risk, this project searches for the recognition of trends and differences in media coverage and the examination of how risk constitutes a significant factor in visual options.