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Medicine, Medea and the Media: The Rise and Fall of Roy Meadow

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Goc, NE (2007) Medicine, Medea and the Media: The Rise and Fall of Roy Meadow. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

For more than three decades eminent British paediatrician, Professor Sir Roy Meadow,
was courted by the media for his startling pronouncements on maternal child murder and
abuse, including his now infamous Meadow's Law and his creation ofMunchausen
Syndrome by Proxy. His compelling evidence made headline news in the trials of several
women, including Sally Clark, Donna Anthony, Angela Cannings and Trupti Patel.
Journalists, however, persistently failed to investigate Meadow's potent claims, using the
eminent paediatrician as a primary source to create highly newsworthy news narratives.
Through an analysis of newspaper stories, primarily in the London Times, this study maps
the rise and fall of Roy Meadow. My critique deploys a narrative trope I have called the
Medea-Factor to explore the fictive qualities of news, and to develop an argument for
understanding how Roy Meadow became the media's national authority on maternal
child murder and abuse, as well as how his glittering career came to an ignominious end.
An important key to revealing Meadow's power-and why it was that journalists
continued to privilege his voice for so long--came in the unearthing of Meadow's
nineteenth-century counterpart, and the first primary definer of infanticide news, Dr
Edwin Lankester. This study concludes that the pattern for creating news narratives about
mothers accused of murdering their children is so compelling that journalists, even when
faced with the evidence of flawed science, will continue to create narratives shaped by
the ideology ofthe Medea-Factor.
The thesis is situated within the discipline of English, and its approach and methodology
belong to that discipline. Its textual sources, however, come from newspapers, and to the
extent that it is concerned with the use of expert witnesses the thesis engages with matters
important to the discipline of journalism and is therefore interdisciplinary.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2007 the Author

Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2008 16:10
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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