The Australian Press Council has issued an advisory guideline surrounding the reporting of family and domestic violence.
The guideline is the result of a six-month consultation process which included round table discussions with domestic violence victims, police, senior journalists and editors.
Included in the guideline are recommendations publishers:
- Avoid publishing information that could contribute to the risk of harm, offence or distress of those affected
- Avoid blaming a person affected and placing undue emphasis on the characteristics or surroundings of the victim unless essential to the narrative or public interest
- Consider cultural sensitivities and practices such as the publication of names or images of deceased persons from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities
- Be mindful of language that trivialises, demeans or inadvertently excuses family violence such as “a domestic” or “a troubled marriage”
- Accompany sensitive content with information about sources of assistance
It is intended to assist those in the industry with a range of editorial considerations relating to family and domestic violence reporting, rather than “constrain or discourage news coverage or forthright debate about family violence”.
Reporting of family violence is already heavily regulated and restricted by state territory and Commonwealth law, although there are inconsistencies in the various pieces of legislation.
Press council chairman Prof David Weisbrot said the consultation period helped the council produce “a very useful, effective and influential document”.
“It was really gratifying to see the way in which people from different sectors, backgrounds and interests worked so constructively towards a common goal,” he said.
In addition to the two-page guideline, the press council has prepared documents relating to the legal restrictions surrounding this type of reporting, a list of resources containing further information on the subject and sources of assistance which publishers may wish to include in articles.
The council is also interested in developing guidelines around other areas such as native advertising and sponsored content and the reporting and photography of minors.
Prof Weisbrot canvassed the council’s intention to produce this guideline in a speech to the Melbourne Press Club in August last year.
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