February 17, 2020

MEDIA MONITORING: JANUARY 2020

MENTAL HEALTH

There were 104 publications on the topic of mental health in Lithuanian media in January. In 51 of them mental health was the main subject.

People with mental health disorders were quoted in 6 pieces in which they discussed the public stigma surrounding mental illness. This is an improvement compared to December when only two publications gave people with mental disorders a platform to speak out.

Mental health disorders and people who have them were mostly portrayed in a neutral context (94 out of 104 publications). There were 2 positive (33 in December) and 8 negative publications (13 in December).

Thematically most publications revolved around describing mental health disorders and their causes and symptoms. Experts discussed child psychology and mental disorders that can start in early childhood („Psichikos sutrikimai kūdikystėje ir ankstyvoje vaikystėje. Kas tai? (II)“). These articles were written so as to change the notion that mental illness is something that comes out of nowhere or is made up, as well as educate the reader on the topic of mental health („Filmas „Išgyventi vasarą“ – apie psichikos sveikatos problemas atvirai“). A significant number of publications are educational which adds to the destigmatisation of mental health.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

260 publications about sexual orientation were found in Lithuanian media in January. 73 publications had sexual orientation as their main topic. “Homosexual” was the keyword that was used in most articles (129 articles). Gender reassignment remains the least discussed LGBT topic in media.

47 publications cited a person belonging to the LGBT community (13 transsexual or transgender people, 31 gays, 3 lesbians); in comparison, there were only 26 articles giving a platform to an LGBT person in December. This change is related to the case a homosexual couple won against Lithuania in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), as well as a transgender Lithuanian citizen being drafted into the military – the people in question were interviewed all over the media in both cases.

As a result of the former, the most discussed topic this month was the win in the ECHR (51 publications). Another prominent topic was health (36 stories, mostly related to sexual health). The LGBT community is often mentioned in the context of other political issues or entertainment topics.

Sexual orientation was mostly mentioned in a neutral context (173 out of 260 publications). Positive context prevailed in 57 publications (almost twice as much compared to December with 33 pieces), and there were also 30 negative articles (twice as little compared to December when there were 61 publications of the sort). This change can be explained by the historical win in the ECHR (for example, „Vytautas Mizaras. Dviejų vyrų bučiniai ir Lietuva: kodėl Lietuva pralaimėjo EŽTT[1]). Meanwhile, publications of negative nature are usually related to publications of the commentary genre critiquing liberal values and more often than not spreading harmful stereotypes against the LGBT community („Stabdykime Lietuvos patriotų genocidą“, Karštas komentaras).

One article worth mentioning is an extremely emotionally connotated Lrytas.lt publication about a case of sexual violence; the language used is harmful to both homosexuals and people who have experienced sexual violence („Iškrypėliškos pramogos du kauniečius atvedė į teisiamųjų suolą“).

Some headlines worth mentioning are the following: one instigating negative stereotypes about lesbians („Lesbietė Syga atvirai: neturiu nieko prieš vyrus, bet nekenčiu patriarchato[3] (Lesbian Syga: I don‘t have anything against men but I hate the patriarchate)), and the other referring to a transgender person incorrectly („Prabilo į kariuomenę šaukiamas vyras, kuris keičiasi lytį ir prisistato Zofija  (Transitioning man introducing himself as Zofija speaks out about being drafted into the military).

MUSLIMS AND ISLAMISTS

452 publications relating to either Muslims or Islamists have been found in the month of January; 315 mentioning Muslim people and 164 mentioning Islamists. In 71 articles the main topic was either the Muslim community (49) or Islamists (28).

The term “Islamist” continues to be used exclusively for describing the actions of extremized military forces, with the exception of one article discussing the attack of Charlie Hebdo and portraying Muslims in a negative light („Pasaulis mini penktąsias ,,Charlie Hebdo“ teroro akto metines“).

Other topics worth mentioning are terrorist attacks (79), out of which only a part was about the Charlie Hebdo attack, the relationship between the East and the West (83), discrimination against Muslims in China and Myanmar (23), and political unrest in the Middle East (29).

In the context of Lithuania, the Muslim community was mentioned more often in January than December – 115 publications, out of which nine were solely about the community. Muslims were portrayed negatively in 10 publications, positively in 13, and neutrally in 91 publications. These numbers are comparatively better than last month’s numbers. The increase in positive articles is due to the fact that news portals took note of the Lithuanian Muslim tradition to clean out the Cathedral Square the day after the New Year’s Eve, and also gave a platform to the members of this community: five publications cited a Muslim or a representative of the Muslim community (for example, „Paskui susapnuotą trispalvę – į Panevėžį“, Sekundė).

Meanwhile negative publications were usually generalizing the community as something that is only capable of bringing evil into the world („G. Merkys. Latifundininko R. Karbauskio atžala kariuomenėje netarnaus, bet eilinį vaikinuką už vengimą jau nuteisė“).



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