A debate on ethical media reporting on violence against women
Media - an important ally in ending gender violence
October 27, 2022
Belgrade, October 27, 2022 – A public debate on media reporting on violence against women was held today at UN House in Belgrade. The aim of this discussion was to answer to the question of how media reporting can contribute to the creation of a society in which violence is unacceptable and victims receive appropriate protection.
The discussion was officially opened by Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and Yakup Beris, UNDP Serbia Resident Representative.
“It is the responsibility of all of us not to stay silent and not to accept widespread relativization and sensationalism, but to raise awareness about violence against women being the worst and most shameful form of the violation of human rights. It cannot be tolerated nor justified, but must be combated and sanctioned “, stated Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality.
The Commissioner pointed out that media have an important role in eliminating stereotypes dominant in the patriarchal culture, and added: “Unfortunately, we still see disputable wording of news titles and inappropriate photographs, and that is why I urge journalists and editors not to be motivated by the fight for clicks, viewers and number of copies sold in these cases, but to keep in mind that this is about the life of someone’s wife, mother, sister or daughter.“
Yakup Beris, UNDP Serbia Resident Representative stated: „Recognizing the important role media have in society, their power to place certain topics in focus and shape public opinion, UNDP, together with other sister UN agencies, supports journalists to report ethically on violence against women. In partnership with national and local public institutions and media, we are contributing to the achievement of gender equality and to building an environment where violence against women is not tolerated. “
Members of the group ‘Journalists against violence’, Jovana Gligorijević (Vreme weekly), Ana Manojlović (Radio Television of Serbia) and Iva Paradjanin (Tampon zona podcast), stated that it is of great importance that editors understand that violence against women is a specific topic and journalists with special training and experience should be sent to report on it. They also pointed out that journalists should be encouraged to receive additional training on this topic. They added that media should use reporting on concrete cases of violence to shed light on the entire phenomenon, its causes and consequences, not only for the survivor, but for the wider community.
„We are making an effort, and I think we’ve achieved to respect the guidelines pointed out so many times by civil society organizations dedicated to this topic and journalists from group ‘Journalists against violence‘. We pay special attention not to cause secondary victimization in any way. Unfortunately, not all employees have had the chance to participate in trainings for journalists on how to report on this sensitive topic. However, we do have many who have, and who always react when there is news about a femicide or violence against women and provide guidelines on how to approach the topic and place information in the proper way. We try to deal with the problem of violence against women as a phenomenon and provide solutions. That is how we select our interviewees”, stated Igor Božić, Program Director of N1 Television.
Editor-in-Chief of Kurir, Aleksandar Đondović pointed out that Adria Media Group has introduced the position of the Manager for Ethical Standards and in doing so made a step towards self-regulation.
“In the last two and a half years, we have worked systematically on the improvement of ethical standards in Kurir, and achieved results also include reporting on violence against women. Permanent work with the editorial office, above all, continuous staff training, has contributed to improved results year after year, and it is my great pleasure to say that improvements have been noticed, besides employees, by our readers, but also colleagues from other media and associations. Our goal, as a ‘premium tabloid’ paper, is to show that it is possible to be current, fast, attractive, while respecting ethics”, Đondović added.
Dragan Kecman, Editor-in-Chief of the Story magazine stated that ’lifestyle’ media for women approach the topic of violence against women with increased seriousness, and that in the recent years great changes have occurred in the way concrete cases of violence on the public scene are reported on.
„Unfortunately, this is a topic lifestyle media deal with mainly when the perpetrator or survivors belong to the jet-set, music or film scene and there is a lack of will to interest readers in learning more about the topic through interviews with psychologists or representatives of institutions. What I find wrong in my field of work, is that we tend to quickly forgive and forget convicted perpetrators of violence who are public figures and we approach them as if nothing happened”, Kecman added.
On this occasion, Marija Janković, photo editor of the “Vreme” weekly opened the photo and illustration exhibition “An image for change”. It includes works that represent the problem of violence against women in an ethical way. The exhibition, placed at the UN House until December 10, 2022, represents a selection of works from the database for free use by media, available at: https://novinarkeprotivnasilja.org/en/no-base/
The Group „Journalists against violence“ developed Guidelines and training for journalists to help them report ethically on violence against women in all segments of their work– from how they behave in the field, to approaching survivors of violence, witnesses, as well as to the selection of interviewees and formulations they use when writing texts and titles.
The discussion was organized within the project “Integrated Response to Violence against Women in Serbia III”, implemented jointlyby UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA and UNDP in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Serbia and with support of the Government of Sweden.