Finding Sarah Everard: A Critical Discourse Analysis Exploring the First Two Weeks of News Media Coverage Following Her Disappearance and Murder
On March 3, 2021, Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was last seen walking around Clapham Common in South London. Through the lens of a content and discourse analysis, this article analyzes a total of 525 news media headlines, covering the first 2 weeks of her disappearance and murder. This analysis unpacks the pedagogic process of the mediated performance of violence against women and girls (VAWG) to principally argue that the British news media construct a narrative arc that invites audiences to follow a curated ideal victim. The utility of this narrative leads Sarah to become a sympathetic narrative citation, to be called on by various interest groups when negotiating social performances of VAWG. Crucially, this article interrogates the power and affect behind news media performances of VAWG that privilege an ideological conception of the ideal victim, a disturbed perpetrator, a period of mourning, and a neoliberal discourse of justice.