News Accounts of Attacks on Women: A Comparison of Three Toronto Newspapers


98 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-919584-60-8




Reviewed by Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor is a journalism professor at the Ryerson Polytechnical
Institute and founding editor of the CBRA.


This is a major, substantial sociological study that should be of interest to working journalists everywhere, but particularly in Ontario. It is part of a much larger research program at the University of Toronto’s Centre of Criminology called “Understanding News of Deviance and Control.” The smaller study here is based on a content analysis of three daily newspapers as they developed the theme of “attacks on Toronto women” over several months through the summer of 1982, which created a sort of “moral panic.” The newspaper articles are compared from various angles, such as amount of space, headlines, position in paper, the range of sources and follow-ups, and so forth. Much of the study is quantitative, in order to map variations in space and source and the approach taken by the three papers’ organizations. While the material is important in that it proves what we have known all along, it reinforces and gives substance to the opinions that the Toronto Sun is a “tabloid” exhibiting the characteristics of what we normally associate with tabloids; the Toronto Star is a “family” paper with a vocabulary geared to that level; and the Toronto Globe and Mail is a “serious national” paper, in that, although it might report on crime and violence, it does so concisely.


Voumvakis, Sophia E., and Richard V. Ericson, “News Accounts of Attacks on Women: A Comparison of Three Toronto Newspapers,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,