A content analysis of the most popular online news portals in Croatia regarding child abuse
In recent years, child abuse as a media content have become increasingly present in the media reports. In approaching this topic, the public interest prevailed over the best interest of child for years. In recent years, the approach is slowly changing and today, in Croatian online media more attention is being paid to children’s identity protection.
Over the period of three months media contents of the most popular online news portals in Croatia – Index.hr, Jutarnji.hr, 24sata.hr, Net.hr and Vecernji.hr – regarding child abuse have been analysed. The goal was to learn about the way the Croatian portals report on the child abuse, whether or not they take account of the rights of the child, and to explore whether the framing theory is applicable to the topic.
As part of this research, 50 articles – 10 from each of the involved portals, were analysed. The investigated features were: representation of domestic and foreign reports, approach to the subject, disclosure of child’s identity, sensationalism, and representation of expert views. The results have shown equal share of domestic and foreign reports, and equal number of theme-based and case-based articles. A chi-squared test pointed to a significantly larger number of articles violating the rules on child protection compared to those complying with the said rules. When observing the domestic articles from Croatia only, we see an equal number of articles violating the rules and those complying with the rules. Four out of five most popular media portals violate child protection rules when reporting on domestic cases (in Croatia), while all five violate the rules when reporting on foreign incidents. Also, the number of articles incorporating expert views is significantly smaller than the number of articles not involving such views. Statistically, there is a significant difference in the level of sensationalism (χ2(4)=11.667, p<.05) among different portals.
The obtained data are alarming and they point to the need for additional education of journalists and editors on child protection and the best interest of the child.