A tale of two Mirrors – victim blaming in the press
TW: Child abuse, grooming
On 9 January 2014, the Mirror published the following article
The article describes the sentencing of a policeman who "sexually abused a teenage girl". She was 14 when this began. The relationship lasted 18 months.
Det Supt Tim Bacon is quoted as saying:
“It is clear he groomed the victim for his own gratification. His actions were disgraceful.”
The article written by Martin Fricker seems as good example of its kind as you will find. Well done, the Mirror.
The next day, 10 January 2014, the Mirror published a second article about a different man. Burford, an assistant head teacher, was also being sentenced for grooming and sexually abusing a teenager. The girl was 14 years old when the relationship began. it lasted 2 years.
The article describes the sexual abuse as "a two-year affair with a schoolgirl", "when they had sex", "he had sex in lay-bys in his car with the girl", had sex with her in motorway service stations".
The article is dominated by Burford's lawyer's speech which, of course, is seeking to minimise the sentence by saying how devastated the man is by never being able to teach again etc so that the focus of the article is on how indulging in a "wholly inappropriate relationship" has devastated the man's life, losing his job, his wife and rarely havingcontact with his daughter. Journalist Jeremy Armstrong feels no need balance this by quoting either prosecution or police on the seriousness of the abuses.
The same newspaper, two such similar cases, yet two completely different articles. How could you do this, the Mirror?