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New research: media identified as priority area in ending violence against women

June 30, 2017 / Our Watch media team

New research released today shows news media have an influential role to play in preventing violence against women and their children, Our Watch CEO Mary Barry said.

Shillouetted woman sitting in conference room looking at her laptop. She has long hair and there a people standing around talking in the background.

“There is a clear link between media reporting and community attitudes towards violence against women,” said Ms Barry.

“The way news media frame a story about violence against women can have a powerful impact on the way the public understands the issue. Who or what is selected to appear in the news and how those individuals and events are portrayed matters.”

“Blaming victims for the violence inflicted upon them, for instance, still happens in one in six articles about violence against women. Not only are people never to blame for experiencing violence, in society, these views impact how many people report violent incidents and conviction rates,” she said.

The University of Melbourne paper, Emerging Evidence, Insights and Lessons: News media and the primary prevention of violence against women and their children, found news media have the potential to positively influence the social and cultural norms that drive violence against women.

The paper indicates many elements are needed to achieve best practice reporting on violence against women.

These include training for students and practicing journalists, in addition to community spokespeople, such as survivors. It also found cross sector collaboration and reporting guidelines are essential, as is acknowledgement and celebration of quality reporting practices.

Ms Barry said there are many journalists and editors doing an excellent job in reporting on violence against women.

“Despite barriers, a large proportion of Australian news media is producing reports free from sensationalism, victim blaming and invisible perpetrators. Many include information about relevant services and relate a single incident of violence to the wider problem we have with men’s violence against women in this country.”

“This is exactly why we established the Our Watch Awards. To celebrate journalists complying with best practice and encouraging others to follow suit,” she said.

Like many industries, organisations and workplaces in Australia, the media has struggled with gender equality in almost all facets of its work; from the production of news to equal representation of men and women in the newsroom and in senior executive positions.

“The dominance of men in positions of power in media newsroom in Australia cannot be ignored, nor can the reported high levels of sexual harassment.  The media industry, and the organisations and workplaces that make up the industry, need to step-up and be leaders in the prevention of sexism, discrimination and violence against women,” said Ms Barry.

Media contact

Laurelle Keough (laurelle.keough@ourwatch.org.au or 0448 844 930)

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000”

To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit Media Making Change.

About the Our Watch Awards

The Our Watch Awards, administered by the Walkley Foundation, is a national awards scheme recognising and rewarding exemplary reporting to end violence against women, reporting that highlights the causes of violence and what society can do to stop it before it starts. The Our Watch Awards, now in its third year, is an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

Find out more about our work to end violence against women in Australia.

The evidence
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