Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland, in partnership with the South Eastern Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership, have produced guidelines for journalists when reporting on domestic violence and abuse.
This document was produced in response to a number of articles reporting on the murders of women with a domestic motivation. On occasion, articles on domestic homicides were obscuring the cause of the murder by not framing as a consequence of an abusive and controlling partner. Often articles would consider the perpetrator as a good person who had “snapped” or was suffering from mental illness. In doing so they were losing the voice of the victim. We produced these guidelines to help mitigate that for victims and their families in the future.
Responsible Reporting Matters: Media Guidelines for Reporting on Domestic Abuse is a framework intended to alert the media to commonly recurring issues that are made when reporting on domestic abuse. The document provides:
- Context to domestic abuse in Northern Ireland
- Research explaining why reporting on domestic abuse safely has a social benefit
- Examples of what not to do
- 6 recommendations to media outlets for ensuring that the dignity of victims and survivors is centered and respected at all times
- A list of organisations that can give guidance when writing stories and can also be named in the article to signpost victims and survivors into services
We thank the journalists consulted in drafting the guidelines, Allison Morris, Tara Mills and Kathryn Torney, for sharing their input and experience. And a special thanks to professor Monica McWilliams for writing the foreword for the report.