Spotlight on the Scottish Media: What's the Story?

This June, Zero Tolerance Project Support Intern Nikki Chung is blogging about the results of her media monitoring study. She’s been scanning Scottish newspapers for stories about violence against women to get an idea about the state of media reporting in Scotland.

From Monday 28th January 2019 to Friday 1st February 2019 I gathered 9 newspapers per day, and 45 newspapers in total. These newspapers included The Scottish Sun, The Scottish Daily Mirror, The Scottish Times, The Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman, The Scottish Herald, The Scottish Daily Express, The Scottish Telegraph, and The Guardian. I analysed the media representations of men’s violence against women.

This is the first blog of four based on my findings. The first is an overview of what I’ve found; the second will be about non-physical abuse; the third will look at who gets to be a perpetrator?; and the fourth will focus on the language used to report violence against women.

Helplines/Consulted with Women’s Organisations?

Following this, there were 75 stories on violence against women across the 5 days, and 0% of these had helplines – this was disappointing. Putting helplines at the end of newspaper reports can help victims of violence to find help and support. Find helpline at the bottom of this blog.

Only 6.7% of the 75 stories consulted with women’s organisations. This is an important point to make as by consulting with women’s sector organisations can help journalists to avoid replicating unhelpful narratives such as victim blaming or sympathizing with the perpetrators. And also giving a voice to women’s organisations may encourage victims/survivors top engage and seek help.

Gender author split

NB: There were some stories with more than one female author.

There were 33% of women who wrote about violence against women; approximately 50% were male authors; and 18% had no author specified. It is difficult to determine the exact gender author split as some of the articles did not specify an author.

When Zero Tolerance did this Media Monitoring project last year (find them here), only 12.7% of the stories were written by women; and 54.4% of these were by men. Although these studies are only a snapshot (taking place over a week), it is good to see an increase of women writers from last year. This gender imbalance in news reporting is not only relevant to violence against women, but it is also across other forms of media. You can take a look at what Gender Equal Media Scotland found in media analysis of gender representation in Brexit news.

Images Used

Overall, 64% of reports used an image; 36% did not. While most imagery that was used were not problematic, one was. It was a report written by The Scottish Sun on the February 1st titled “Stalker Hell Kylie’s Courage.” This article spoke about a man stalking Kylie Minogue who repeatedly pressed the intercom button at her home, which left her understandably, frightened.

The report was generally good in that it showed how stalking can make someone feel (i.e. terrified, and not wanting to leave the house). It also included statistics of the prevalence of stalking, and it has risen in past years. However, it used an image of Kylie’s street. Including this image may have put the victim in even more risk of abuse and shouldn’t be used. Instead, journalists can use a picture of the person (after obtaining permission), or do not include an image at all.


  • You can find our Handle with Care guide for information on how to responsibly report on violence against women
  • Learn more about violence against women through a free online course delivered by the University of Strathclyde
  • Luke and Ryan Hart share their story of domestic abuse on Twitter and focuses on changing media representations of domestic abuse


If you have been affected by any of these issues please get in touch:

Rape Crisis Scotland – 08088 01 03 02

Rape Crisis Scotland provides a national rape crisis helpline and email support for anyone affected by sexual violence, no matter when or how it happened.

The helpline is normally open from 6pm to midnight, 7 days a week, and offers free and confidential initial and crisis support and information.


Scottish Women’s Aid runs a helpline, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which supports anyone with experience of domestic abuse or forced marriage, as well as their family members, friends, colleagues and professionals who support them.


Media Monitoring

This is an annual project - see previous year's findings here.

For full recommendations on how to write about Violence Against Women see our guidelines.

Have you written or read a story that is an example of good practice in reporting Violence Against Women? Enter the Write to End Violence Against Women Award.

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Zero Tolerance's Media Guidelines on Violence Against Women and Girls for PrintZero Tolerance's Media Guidelines on Violence Against Women and Girls for Print Zero Tolerance's media guidelines on violence against women and girls are for journalists, editors, and other media professionals.