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New Directions From the Field: Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century- News Media Community

NCJ Number
Date Published
8 pages
This paper presents promising practices and recommendations related to the role of the news media in victim issues, based on analyses conducted during a 3-year period by crime victims, representatives from national victim advocacy and service organizations, criminal justice practitioners, allied professionals, and others.
The discussion notes that the news media has a significant role in public safety, but this coverage sometimes raises legitimate concerns about victims' rights to privacy. Timely and sensitive coverage of victims' cases can be helpful; coverage of specific cases and emerging crimes has also contributed to positive changes in public policy. Various studies indicate that crime victims would be more likely to take part in the criminal justice system if the media were more respectful of their privacy. In addition, the impact of media coverage on victims and survivors depends largely on the sensitivity with which journalists approach their reporting. The guidelines on privacy issues developed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provide an example of ethical standards for major newspapers regarding publishing names and addresses of crime victims and witnesses, interviewing family members of victims, and dealing with juvenile victims. They also deal with taking photographs that portray victims or survivors in private moments of deep emotion and the coverage of funerals, sexual abuse, incest cases, and kidnapping involving sexual abuse. Recommended actions based on the study of news media coverage include the establishment of codes of ethics or guiding principles and frequent educational forums for journalists on sensitive media coverage of crime and victimization. Additional recommendations, reference notes and form on which to order the complete report

Date Published: January 1, 1998