Open letter to media organisations from Noeline Blackwell, CEO, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.
Friday, September 15th, 2017
Dear media organisations,
George Hook’s remarks on Newstalk on Friday, 8th September have highlighted once again how incorrect information and a lack of awareness in opinions, comments, reporting or storylines by the media can be not only offensive, but also downright harmful.
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has identified the need for media guidelines and protocols to ensure that those reporting on topics of rape, sexual abuse and other sexual violence do so in a way that is informed and that recognises the serious harm that such violence causes. Such guidelines are available in other jurisdictions, but none are available in Ireland.
While such guidelines and protocols would certainly benefit those with whom we work, they would also benefit journalists, broadcasters and others who influence media and public opinion. We are aware from our own contacts with those in the media that they sometimes do not have the information they need, or the language to properly convey messages relating to sexual violence. Media organisations that are better informed are less likely to cause offence or, when concerns are raised as to how the issue of sexual violence has been presented, they will be better prepared to respond and to handle any fall-out.
Protocols and guidelines would be best developed through collaboration between those who work in the media and those who work with and advocate on behalf of victims/ survivors of sexual violence. We are today calling on all media organisations in Ireland to partner with us to develop guidelines for reporting and commenting on sexual violence.
Media organisations have the power to influence how sexual violence is perceived. You have the power to help raise awareness and destroy myths. With your support, we can substantially reduce tolerance of sexual violence in Irish society by changing the narrative and by ensuring that harmful myths no longer dominate the headlines.
Please confirm that you are prepared to collaborate with us in this important work.
Noeline Blackwell. CEO Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
70 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2.
15 September 2017