General information on messaging and media campaigns.
Working with the Media on Violence Against Women
Here are some suggestions to work with the media to improve coverage of violence against women in the media:
- thank them for taking the time to cover the issue because it is so important and will help people because…emphasizing how wonderful they are to have covered this important issue
- compliment what they did well
- offer yourself as a source for the next time they want to write something on the issues you address
- provide information (again) about what exactly it is that you do
- offer resources for further info or services that they might add to a box or at the end of the article (website, hotline)
- contact them next time you have a training or event to invite them to participate/learn more about the program
- can start a relationship for next time there is an opportunity for coverage.
- Building relationships is at least as important as what you tell them when they are writing a story.
- Providing materials in writing is good too: have a short blurb in writing on your mission, activities, and why they matter that you can give reporters.
- Bring your prepared short sound bites and repeat them in many forms, just like politicians do.
Some of the best coverage happened when a managing editor at a newspaper had a personal experience of being the person called on to help a friend after she was raped. He attended events as a public figure and promoted some great series at his paper. Point out in public that such people are valuable allies in the work against violence and seek them out. Let them know how they can help make good coverage. Poor coverage or misrepresentation provides an opportunity for a follow-up story. The media outlet may be willing to do a more focused story specifically on your program to clarify the misrepresentation.
Violence against women prevention advocates can piggyback coverage of pending legislation and joint public appearances with allied organizations or individuals to reframe the subject toward prevention.
Resources on developing good media responses to violence against women
- Writing About Gender-Based Violence & Title IX: A Guide for Journalists & Editors – Know Your IX
- Reporting on Rape and Sexual Violence: A Media Toolkit for Local and National Journalists to Better Media Coverage – Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women
- Framing Public Issues – FrameWorks Institute
- The Art and Science of Framing an Issue – GLAAD
The Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence developed toolkits for both advocates and journalists on how the media should cover the issues of violence against women, with participation from both advocacy organizations and media outlets. Both are available online.
The Berkeley Media Studies Group Reporting on Violence Project has concrete strategies to work with the media. They have a handbook for journalists who want to include a primary prevention approach. Advocates can update it or make it location-specific adding local resources, and make it available to journalism programs, editors and journalists in their area. They also published materials based on their Communicating for Change training. The following seven modules are available online:
- Making the Case for Health with Media Advocacy
- Planning Ahead for Strategic Media Advocacy
- Shaping Public Debate with Framing and Messages
- Creating News that Reaches Decision Makers
- Engaging Reporters to Advance Health Policy
- Targeting Audiences with New Communication Tools
- Training Allies in Strategic Media Advocacy
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