Sexual violence is a complex societal issue that affects one in five women and one in 71 men in their lifetime1. This makes it an extremely important yet complicated topic to report on in the media.
We understand that reporting on these topics is a difficult task, and we appreciate the media’s commitment to doing so with integrity.
The following resources provide guidance and tips for journalists reporting on sexual violence:
- This tip sheet, created in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, includes background information, statistics, definitions, language considerations, and additional resources for journalists reporting on sexual violence.
- The eight resources included in this packet answer common questions related to sexual violence.
- This resource includes best practices and story ideas for writing about sexual violence.
- This publication by the Berkeley Media Studies Group presents findings on news coverage of sexual violence to determine how the topic is covered and identify any gaps.
- This online course created by the Poynter Institute and NSVRC addresses language use, stereotypes about perpetrators, and avoiding predictable coverage.
- This resource from Know Your IX provides tips for writing about gender-based violence, particularly on college campuses.
- This toolkit by the Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women provides information about gender-based violence as well as recommendations for covering violence in the media.
- This resource from femifesto includes a language checklist for reporting on sexual assault, tips for interviewing survivors, and self-care recommendations for survivors speaking in the media.
- Created by Justice Solutions, this guide discusses respectfully working with victims of crimes.
- The Columbia Journalism Review highlights best practices for journalists covering sexual assault.
- This article from the Columbia Journalism Review discusses problematic reporting on the Steubenville case.
- Poynter disseminates several resources, including the Dart Center and RAINN.
- This tip sheet includes recommendations for preparation, interviewing, and writing.
- This article by Rachel Dissell of The Plain Dealer discusses reporting on rape kit backlogs.
- This article by Jessica Luther explains how sports media can better cover stories involving sexual assault.
- This article from the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma discusses research showing that news stories often lack context.
Tools for Advocates Working With Reporters
NSVRC also responds to requests from advocates who are working with the media. We provide information on how to interviewing, media advocacy, and more.
The following resources can help advocates work with the media:
- This resource from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Bangor Daily News discusses how advocacy organizations and news organizations can build relationships.
- These talking points help guide advocates in discussing prevention with the media.
- This resource provides information for advocates and service providers about working with the media.
- This guide helps advocates and service providers develop a media relations plan.
- How to Teach Reporting on Sexual Abuse (MediaShift – Candi Carter Olson and Tracy Everbach)
1 Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S .G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., Stevens, M. R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 summary report. Retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf