Colorado/Oklahoma Resource Council Media Consortium
NVAA “News Coverage of Crime and Victimization Chapter”
The Colorado/Oklahoma Resource Council Media Consortium was created when the trial for the Oklahoma City bombing and murders at the Murrah Federal Building changed venue to Denver, Colorado. The Consortium was created to support the federal court; address community concerns; and treat victims and witnesses with dignity and respect. It developed a credentialing process for journalists who wished to attend the trial; worked with the court to secure space for the news media; coordinated pool coverage; and promoted self-policing control and accountability among journalists.
Criminal Justice Journalists
Criminal Justice Journalists is a national membership organization of journalists who cover crime, court, and prison beats. Affiliated with the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology of the University of Pennsylvania, CJJ participates in conferences and develops resource materials for journalists who cover crime.
Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, University of Washington
The Dart Center advocates ethical and thorough reporting of trauma; educates journalists about the psychology of trauma and news implications; and serves as a forum for journalists to analyze issues, exchange ideas, advance strategies related to reporting on violence and catastrophes, and foster peer support. Each year, the Dart Center presents the Dart Award for Excellence in Reporting on Victims of Violence to radio and newspaper pieces that sensitively and comprehensively illustrate the compound effects of violence on victims’ lives. The Dart Society, consisting of journalists who have received Dart fellowships or awards, promotes sensitive coverage of victims and provides support to journalists affected by covering victimization’s effects.
The Poynter Institute is a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. Poynter offers seminars, courses, and workshops at its St. Petersburg, Florida, headquarters; cosponsors national writers’ workshops across the country; hosts a toll free hotline for ethical questions; and offers numerous resources through its Web site. In 2005, Poynter launched News University (http://www.newsu.org/), an online resource that provides interactive, inexpensive courses to journalists from all experience levels and media backgrounds.
Victims and the Media Program, Michigan State University School of Journalism
This program teaches journalism students to report on victims of violence and catastrophe with the sensitivity, dignity, and respect that victims deserve. Since its establishment in 1991, the program has held conferences, created videotapes, and developed curricula. It helps victim advocates work as “facilitators and buffers” between victims and the media, and helps journalists deal with the stress and trauma associated with covering victimization’s effects.
“Victims and the Media” Forums
When all key “players” involved with the news media coverage of crime and victimization have an understanding of their mutual concerns and unique perspectives, sensitive coverage of crime victims is a likely outcome. In the past, many communities have sponsored 1-day forums and symposia that address these issues and engage journalists, victim advocates, justice professionals, mental health and allied professionals, and victims/survivors as speakers and participants.
As evidenced by the content of this guide, there are many topics that can be addressed in a “Victims and the Media” forum. In a 1-day, 6-hour session, key issues can include—
- An opening panel of victims/survivors speaking about their personal experiences with the media—both positive and negative.
- The viewpoint of journalists regarding what the public needs to know about crime and victimization.
- Perspectives of justice professionals who must maintain the integrity of a case while, at the same time, provide information to the media that is relevant to the public.
- An explanation of the role of victim advocates as both facilitators for victim interviews, and as sources for reliable information about crime and victimization.
It is also helpful to provide a venue for roundtable discussions that mixes participants with different perspectives, in order to promote informative discussions about critical issues and concerns.
In an effort to sensitize future journalists to crime victims’ issues and specific concerns about victims’ interactions with the media, many victim advocates are guest speakers at college journalism classes. The contents of this guide, as well as the companion Guide for Journalists, provide excellent resources to sensitize journalism students and promote interactive discussions about how to balance the needs of victims and journalists. Some tips for presentations include—
- Bring a victim whose experiences were covered in the media to personalize the message.
- Focus on the positive aspects of the news media coverage of crime and victimization, while also addressing key concerns related to responsible media coverage.
- Provide concrete examples from personal experiences.
- Provide simple tips based upon the contents of the OVC guides.
- Be prepared for tough questions—many journalism students’ experiences are based upon classroom learning and books and not actual experiences.
Date Received Request Received By:
First Name: Last Name:
Address:City: State: Zip:
Work Phone: Cell: Fax:
E-mail: _______________________________________________________Preferred Method of Contact:
□ Work Phone □ Cell □ E-mail □ Fax □ Snail Mail
Deadline: Expected Publication/Air Date:Request is: □ Urgent □ Important, but not rush □ Information gathering only
□ Reporter □ Publisher □ Columnist
□ Anchor □ Producer □ News Director
□ Editor (type):
□ Crime □ National □ Special Features
□ Metro □ Health □ Other:
□ Newspaper □ Magazine □ Other:
□ TV news □ TV talk show □ Live or □ Taped
□ Radio news □ Radio talk show
Any Red Flags? □ No □ Yes:
Recommended Follow up:________________________________________
Attribution: Journalists are encouraged to “attribute” (cite sources for) the facts included in their stories.
Broadband: Fast connections to the Internet.
Broadcast: Communicating near and far using radio and television.
Byline: The printing of the reporter’s name before or after the article.
Closed question: Questions that only require a “yes” or “no” answer.
Copy: The written raw material of a newspaper or magazine article.
Beat: Reporters who are assigned to a “beat” cover a specific content area or physical location (the crime beat, the City Hall beat, etc.).
Citizen journalism: When nonprofessionals in the community contribute content (photos, video clips, blogs, etc.), usually for free.
Cutline: Another word for a photo caption.
Dateline: The reference at the beginning of a news story that lists the date and place where the story occurred.
Deadline: The time by which a finished article or video must be submitted for publication. Deadlines are typically set by editors.
Draft: The first rough version of a story that can then be edited by the reporter and editors.
Editor: A person who corrects, changes, or challenges the reporter’s story before it is published or aired.
Editing: The process of correcting or changing the reporter’s copy. With audio and video, the editor helps to create the final product from the reporter’s clips.
Editorial: An opinion piece that is normally unsigned. (An op/ed is a signed opinion/editorial, usually produced by someone other than the editor.)
Feature: A more in-depth article on a newsworthy topic or individual.
Five W’s and an H: Who, what, why, when, where, and how. These are the core questions that most news accounts should answer.
Grip and grin: Events where politicians shake hands with supporters.
Journalist: Someone who conducts interviews, researches, writes, edits, or otherwise produces print, broadcast, or online news.
Journalism: The business or practice of reporting the news.
Leading questions: Questions designed to draw the interview subject out.
Lead (or lede): The first and most important sentence in a news article or news broadcast.
Loaded words: Words that can have negative meanings or connotations.
Nut graf: The paragraph (not the first) that captures the essence of the story and why people should care.
On (or off) the record: On the record comments allows the reporter to attach the person’s name to the information. Off the record comments are not to be included at all, with or without attribution.
Online journalism: News reporting on the Internet.
Open-ended questions: Questions that encourage people to share their thoughts and feelings. Questions that cannot be answered by a simple “yes” or “no.”
Pack journalism: When reporters from different news agencies come together to report on a single story.
Publish: To release a work that the public can read, see, or hear.
Scoop: To get a story first.
Source: A person, book, report, video, song, or audio clip used as a reference for information.
1 Lak Vohra, 1992. Media Strategies and Accomplishments for Rape in America, Arlington, VA: National Center for Victims of Crime (formerly the National Victim Center).
2Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation, “Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct,” http://www.rtdna.org/pages/media_items/code-of-ethics-and-professional-conduct48.php?g=36?id=48, accessed March 30, 2007.
3Society of Professional Journalists, “Code of Ethics,” http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp, accessed March 30, 2007.
4Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2006, “Citizens Bill of Journalism Rights,” Washington, DC: Project for Excellence in Journalism.
5Dean G. Kilpatrick, 2007, “Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated and Forcible Rape: A National Study,” Charleston, SC: Medical University of South Carolina, National Crime Victim Research and Treatment Center.
6Judy Benitez, 2002, “Ethical Considerations in Media Coverage of Rape and Sexual Assault,” Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault.
7Cathy Bullock, “Understanding Patterns of Domestic Violence,” DART Center for Journalism and Trauma, http://dartcenter.org/content/understanding-patterns-domestic-violence, accessed March 30, 2007.
8Kelly Starr, Revised 2006, Covering Domestic Violence: A Guide for Journalists and Other Media Professionals, Seattle, WA: Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
9Jesse Tarbert, “Covering homicide: A new approach.” Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, http://www.dartcenter.org/need_to_know/2007/02/covering-homicide-new-approach.html, accessed March 30, 2007.
10Don R. Pember, 2002, Mass Media Law, 2003/2004 Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill Companies.
11Photographers’ Guide to Privacy, “A primer on invasion of privacy,” The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, http://www.rcfp.org/pullouts/photographers/index.php?pg=primer, accessed March 30, 2007 and “9 Keys to Avoiding Invasion of Privacy Suits,”http://www.rcfp.org/pullouts/photographers/index.php?pg=9keys, accessed March 30, 2007.
12Pember, pp. 259, 290
13Pember, p. 302
14Pember, pp. 205, 270–271–, 280.
15Pember, pp. 205, 291.
16Roger C. Roy, and Amy C. Rippel, “Earnhardts win right to keep autopsy photos sealed,” Orlando-Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/motorracing/sns-earnhardt-autopsyphotos,0,4354798.story, accessed March 30, 2007 and “Fla. college paper appeals Earnhardt autopsy photo case to the Supreme Court, Student Press Law Center, http://www.splc.org/newsflash.asp?id=677, accessed March 30, 2007.
17Pember, p. 179, 268.
18Anne Seymour and Linda Lowrance, 1990, Crime Victims and the Media, Washington, DC: National Center for Victims of Crime (formerly known as National Victim Center), (adapted in part).
202004 Facts About Newspapers: A Statistical Summary of the Newspaper Industry, “Number of U.S. Daily Newspapers,” Newspaper Association of America, http://www.naa.org/info/facts04/dailynewspapers.html, accessed March 30, 2007.
23U.S. Federal Trade Commission. (2002). Washington, DC: Federal Trade Commission.
24Talker’s Magazine Online. “The Talk Radio Research Project; American Radio News Audience Survey,” Talker’s Magazine Online, www.talkers.com/talkaud.html, accessed March 30, 2007.
25Desiree Cooper, “10 Practical Tips on Approaching the News Media,” Detroit Free Press, 2001.
26Desiree Cooper, “10 Ways to Make a Good Pitch.” Detroit Free Press, 2001.
27Anne Seymour and Linda Lowrance, 1990, Media Relations, Washington, DC: National Center for Victims of Crime (formerly known as National Victim Center), (adapted in part).
Bonnie Bucqueroux, 2007, “Preparing an Editorial Board Presentation,” Lansing, MI: Victims and the Media Program, Michigan State University.
30Anne Seymour and Linda Lowrance, 1990, Media Relations, Washington, DC: National Center for Victims of Crime (formerly known as National Victim Center), (adapted in part).