Thursday, October 15, 2009

Call to Action: Media Accountability

We received this letter today from Jewish Women International:

Every 1.4 minutes another woman in the U.S. is injured or murdered by her intimate partner. This year our efforts around Domestic Violence Awareness Month are focused on the media – asking news outlets to tell the whole story when reporting incidents of domestic violence.

Reporting these crimes with accurate language is critical to the public’s understanding of domestic violence as a specific type of crime. Seventy-four percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; yet, the phrase ‘domestic violence’ is rarely found in coverage of these incidents. Reporting an assault or murder as one episode in a pattern of abuse – not an isolated act of violence – is as relevant as where, when, how and to whom it happened.

Journalists’ inaccurate accounts – reports that blame the victims, or excuse abusers –reinforce myths and misunderstandings about domestic violence. All media coverage of intimate partner violence must:
  • Acknowledge that domestic violence is not a private matter
  • Use accurate language – words like abuse; assault; rape
  • Convey that domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that often escalates when a victim is trying to leave, or has left, the relationship
  • Identify the act as a domestic violence crime and place the murder in the larger context of domestic violence murders locally and nationally
Please join our call for responsible reporting: Send a letter to an editor asking newspapers to thoroughly report crimes of domestic violence.

Together we can change attitudes about violence against women and put a stop to domestic abuse in our community.
Click here to join JWI in asking the media to use the real facts and the right words in reports on domestic violence.

If you'd like to do more on a local level to respond to media reports on domestic violence, contact the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

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