Monday, November 30, 2009

For Reporters: How to Write About DV

Reporters covering DV arrests and homicides should take a leaf from Joe Johnson's book. His piece "Horrific End To Marriage Continues Deadly 2009 Trend" in the Athens Banner-Herald is an example of great DV reporting. Follow the link to read it, then come back and we'll tell you why.


First, Joe did a very good job of painting a picture of the batterer. Most readers want to assume that someone capable of domestic violence is easy to pick out in a crowd. They expect batterers to look scary or act strange. They never expect batterers to look like their siblings, friends, bosses, neighbors, or fellow church members. This story reminds people how important it is to believe women when they disclose abuse because, though it might not be obvious, all kinds of people are capable of violence.

Second, Joe did an amazing job of showing that domestic violence is increasing and talking to experts to explain that trend. Many women feel like they’re suffering alone, and communities want to believe that domestic violence homicides are rare. If they are rare, we are somewhat absolved of the responsibility of preventing domestic violence and supporting survivors. The article makes clear how important support services are and how equally important it is to support our family and loved ones if they admit to us that their relationship is abusive.

Last, Joe reminded readers who are experiencing domestic violence that the violence usually escalates over time, and provides them with a name, description, and phone number for a local agency that can help them.

It's that simple.

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