A Tale of Three Women: Framing as a Patriarchal Practice in the News Coverage of Women in Distress


Women in situations of distress receive a disproportionate amount of news coverage. As survivors (or perpetrators) of crime, violence, or natural disasters, they are naturally “newsworthy”—a newsroom term for the subjective lens with which truthtellers define and select their news frames. These frames, which govern the identification and coverage of what is “newsworthy,” box women into specific, patriarchal roles. Women who do not fall within the traditional feminine archetypes are labeled as dissidents or insurgents, and are excluded, dismissed, rejected, or worse persecuted, until the news recasts them into more familiar molds. This is exemplified in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s news coverage of Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina convicted of drug trafficking in Indonesia and sentenced to death in 2010. An examination of the Inquirer’s coverage of the Veloso case unearthed the gender biases that are inherent in the subjective rules that govern the patterns of selection and depiction in mainstream newsrooms.