Professor Janet Leach also cautioned against sensationalism and details that are not newsworthy
To understand the ‘trend of gender-based violence’, and raise awareness, such incidents must not be looked at in isolation, but must be pulled together to give context, said Janet Leach, associate professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Kent State University. She was addressing the media on issues pertaining to gender-based violence and the ethical dimensions of reporting it.
Also the director of Kent’s Media Law Center for Ethics and Access, Ms. Leach, in her talk about journalism’s role in creating awareness and effecting change in the area of gender-based violence, stressed on “telling the whole story”, but cautioned against sensationalism and putting out details that are not newsworthy.
“In some cases they want to be spoken to as survivors and not victims,” she said. While the media can help victims understand their rights, and in some cases, even prove cathartic, journalists have to be careful about assessing consequences, how much detail is given out, language, its effect on the victim’s community, and the ‘major question in ethics’ — naming the suspect.
“The victims should not feel further victimised,” she said. Another ethical news value is reciprocity. “Think about how you would want to be treated in the same situation,” she said. While calling the social media an excellent platform, she said that information must be accurate. “You have to walk a fine line,” said Ms. Leach.