By Julia Zemiro.
A new report shows that up to 15 per cent of articles on domestic violence imply an element of victim blaming. Can it be a coincidence that roughly the same percentage of people think women are somehow responsible for the violence inflicted on them? Julia Zemiro calls our media to account.
It’s the beginning of June and 31 women have been killed by violence so far this year in Australia. In 2015 there were 79 women murdered, the majority of which by a male family member.
These deaths are just the tip of a grotesque and insidious iceberg full of countless numbers of women and their children living in fear for their safety.
Many of us become aware of this issue when we read or hear about it in the news, another tragic death in the headlines.
The media play a powerful role in bringing this issue to our attention and shaping the national conversation. What’s causing it and what will it take to stop it before it starts.
With this powerful platform comes a great deal of responsibility.
I hosted the inaugural Our Watch Awards last year, an event that promotes the positive role the media play to help prevent violence against women and their children.
Positive, I hear you say? Is there a “good” news story when it comes to violence against women? Yes, It IS possible to prevent this violence. And more importantly, it is vital.
How we interpret a news item affects our feelings and thoughts on domestic violence. How journalists and editors present a story can speak volumes. Who or what is selected to appear in the article and how those individuals and events are portrayed is very important. Language matters.
I’m not a journalist. My job is not to report facts. But surely there’s more to this “story” than click-bait articles that turn tragedies into entertainment.
The Our Watch Awards, administered by the Walkley Foundation, honour those who do exemplary work to help end violence against women. Highlighting the great work these journalists do is a critical part of moving the national conversation forward from one that dwells exclusively on gruesome tragedy to one that starts to unpick the drivers of this violence and a world where women and children live free of it.
But while there is much great work worthy of recognition at this year’s Awards (entries open for the 2016 Awards today) exemplary reporting is not always the norm. Our Watch and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) today released a new report on the nature of reporting of violence against women by the Australian media. The report stands out internationally in its size and scope.
The research (4,516 items reviewed over four months – February to June 2015) found that there is a large volume of articles about violence against women, and this is a good thing. We are no longer living in the dark about domestic violence. We are talking about it, reading about it, calling it out. But the research found there are still challenges in reporting of it. There is still a lack of social context and an understanding of the underlying drivers of violence.