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Guide for Journalists Who Report on Crime and Crime Victims

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2009
66 pages
This guide assists journalists in performing their unique role in providing information to the public on ways in which crime and criminal victimization are addressed in the United States.

In addition, this guide provides current, complete, and specific information and advice to journalists about their reporting on victims and witnesses, as well as their families and friends. It also explains the role of victim advocates and service providers, along with ways that journalists can work with them to meet victims' needs. The first of 12 chapters in the guide outlines responsibilities of journalists in handling breaking new stories. The tasks addressed are asking for the interview, dealing with logistics, and conducting the interview. The intent of this and other chapters in the guide is to facilitate sensitive and respectful reporting that involves crime victims. Another chapter instructs journalists in their covering of victims of specific crime types, namely, homicide, sexual assault and rape, domestic violence, drunk driving, and vulnerable populations (children and the elderly). Guidelines for feature stories are addressed in another chapter. Other chapters provide practical guidance for handling high-impact stories, working with victim service providers, creating ethics polices, victims' right to privacy, "self-care" for journalists, and resources and promising practices. A chapter on "special challenges in reporting" elaborates on the following statements: "Victims should expect multimedia coverage;" "There are no more local-only stories;" "Print reporters shooting video need training on victim issues;" "Citizen journalists need information on victim issues;" "Online articles and mistakes can live forever;" and "News organizations need victim input in decisions on citizen comments."

Date Published: September 1, 2009