• unitwinidevaw2021


How the Kronen Zeitung reports deadly violence against women and girls

By Phelia Weiß

Women getting killed by their (ex-)partners or family members has not only been a problem in Austria since the pandemic. But in the past year politicians and the general public finally seemed to acknowledge what activist groups had been talking about for ages (though their reactions were oftentimes questionable). A big part of this rise in public interest came from prominent and ongoing reporting about cases of femicide. Despite their important role in this process, so far there has not been any research investigating specifically how Austrian media take on the topic of deadly violence against women and girls. To better understand how the phenomenon of femicide, its victims and perpetrators are seen, a content analysis of Austria’s biggest tabloid newspaper, the Kronen Zeitung, was performed.

For more background information on the theoretical framework and the situation in Austria, please read this teaser. If you are interested in the method and statistical analysis applied, you can find information further down. To read the key findings of this study check out the info graphic below!

The results: No Austrians to be seen


This study analyzed articles of the Kronen Zeitung from December 2020 to November 2021 that reported on cases of (attempted) killings of women in personal proximity. The WISO press database for the newspaper was searched using several relevant terms like “murder of women” or “relationship dispute”. The search results were then checked for relevance and downloaded. This way N = 90 articles were identified for the analysis period that addressed the topic and mentioned at least one specific case.

For the content analysis a category system was developed based on previous research, which was then adjusted after test coding a share of the article material. To identify the frames that are present in the femicide reporting, indicators for the four frame elements were dummy coded, following the recommendation of Matthes and Kohring[1]. For the problem definition the variables included the thematic focus as well as active (i.e., quoted directly or indirectly) and passive actors. The moral evaluation was operationalized through the naming of the act and the suspect, plus the presence of exonerating or condemning facts. Furthermore, the given attribution of cause for the killing and possible treatment recommendations were coded.

Statistical analysis

All statistical analysis was carried out using R. For the frame analysis first all items with a frequency below 5% were excluded from the calculation. Then a hierarchical cluster method using the ward algorithm was applied to the remaining variables. The number of clusters was determined using the elbow-method, which resulted in the distinction of four frames. To interpret these in terms of content, the means for the dummy variables were calculated and compared between and within the four clusters.

To gain further insight into how the Kronen Zeitung depicts the death of women and girls, an automated text analysis was performed with the help of the quanteda package[2]. With this, the articles could be searched for specific terms describing the killings to make the development visible over the twelve months observed.


[1] Matthes, J. & Kohring, M. (2008). The content analysis of media frames: Toward improving reliability and validity. Journal of Communication, 58(2), 258–279. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2008.00384.x

[2] Benoit, K., Watanabe, K., Wang, H., Nulty, P., Obeng, A., Müller, S. & Matsuo, A. (2018). quanteda: An R package for the quantitative analysis of textual data. Journal of Open Source Software, 3(30), 774. https://doi.org/10.21105/joss.00774

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