Launch of New Report "Unpacking the Narrative" about Media Guides on Sexual Violence

Published: 26 July 2023

iMPACTS is proud to announce the launch of a new report, Unpacking the Narrative: An Analysis of Media Guides about Responsible Reporting on Sexual Violence.

Cover of the report "Unpacking the Narrative" which includes a photo of a person writing on a notepad

Authored by Juliet Morrison and Dr. Christopher Dietzel, this report presents findings from our research project which compiled and analyzed media guides from several organizations that aim to guide journalists in covering stories on sexual violence. The purpose of this research was to review the guides, uncover helpful recommendations, and provide suggestions for improvement. In doing so, we aim to underline the importance of approaching people’s stories in a trauma-informed, survivor-centred manner and offer commentary on existing tools for journalists.

Unpacking the Narrative offers helpful recommendations from journalism institutes, academics, sexual violence resource centres, and governments, and it suggests how unhelpful recommendations can be addressed and improved. With our analysis and critiques of existing media guides, this report can prompt critical thinking about how the media and journalists have an impact on society and public discourse. This report also reflects a collective responsibility to expect and promote more trauma-informed approaches to journalism on sexual violence.

Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

  1. Media guides are valuable resources, but many fail to recognize the range of media actors involved in the production process and the influence they can have when reporting on sexual violence.
  2. Language is important, and the media should ensure the language they use is trauma-informed and survivor-centric.
  3. There is a lack of recognition of intersectionality and how people with minority and/or marginalized identities experience compounded harms.
  4. Sexual violence should be framed around public health to call attention to the fact that this problem is societal rather than individual and to critically examine how it can be addressed.
  5. The guides that offer actionable, survivor-centric recommendations were collaboratively prepared between sexual violence experts and media actors. Engagement between both parties can lead to effective reporting on sexual violence that is also attune to the realities of media production.

Click here to download the full report, Unpacking the Narrative: An Analysis of Media Guides about Responsible Reporting on Sexual Violence.

Back to top