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Reporting on Sexual Violence

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.

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.

NSVRC Media Packet

  • The eight resources included in this packet answer common questions related to sexual violence.

NSVRC Tip Sheet for Journalists

  • This resource includes best practices and story ideas for writing about sexual violence.

Issue 22: What's missing from the news on sexual violence? An analysis of coverage, 2011-2013

  • 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.

Writing About Gender-Based Violence & Title IX: A Guide for Journalists & Editors

  • This resource from Know Your IX provides tips for writing about gender-based violence, particularly on college campuses.

Reporting On Rape and Sexual Violence: A Media Toolkit for Local and National Journalists to Better Media Coverage

  • 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.

Use the Right Words: Media Reporting on Sexual Violence in Canada

  • 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.

A Guide for Journalists Who Report on Crime and Crime Victims

  • Created by Justice Solutions, this guide discusses respectfully working with victims of crimes.

The Right Way to Write About Rape

  • The Columbia Journalism Review highlights best practices for journalists covering sexual assault.

Dismal Steubenville Coverage

  • This article from the Columbia Journalism Review discusses problematic reporting on the Steubenville case.

11 Resources for Responsibly Reporting on Rape

  • Poynter disseminates several resources, including the Dart Center and RAINN.

Reporting on Sexual Violence: A Dart Centre Europe Tip Sheet

  • This tip sheet includes recommendations for preparation, interviewing, and writing.

Reinvestigating Rape: Tips

  • This article by Rachel Dissell of The Plain Dealer discusses reporting on rape kit backlogs.

Gendered Violence Cases Challenge Sports Journalists To Consider And Reconsider Each Word They Write

  • This article by Jessica Luther explains how sports media can better cover stories involving sexual assault.

How News Is “Framed”

  • 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.

Media Relations Toolkit

  • This resource is comprised of tools to help build relationships with journalists and inform news coverage about sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.

Sexual Violence & Journalism: Collaboration Beyond the News

  • This resource from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Bangor Daily News discusses how advocacy organizations and news organizations can build relationships.

Talking Points: A Guiding Document for Media Response and Community Conversations

  • These talking points help guide advocates in discussing prevention with the media.

Working with the Media—A Toolkit for Service Providers

  • This resource provides information for advocates and service providers about working with the media.

Media Relations Made Easy

  • This guide helps advocates and service providers develop a media relations plan.

Additional Resources

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: