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Encounters for Justice:
A comparative study of how journalists mediate stories of domestic abuse and gender-based violence

What is this project about?

This proposal takes the definition of Violence Against Women to address the core questions: What happens at the moment of encounter between journalist and survivor of domestic and gender-based violence? To what extent are journalists prepared for hearing, reading and speaking about crimes of violence against women? And how can that moment of encounter be mobilized to challenge inequalities and gender injustices?


This collaboration proposes to examine the work of journalists who report stories of domestic and gender-based violence, from the 1970s to the present. While research on media representation of violence against women has typically focused on the final textual and narrative product, this collaboration sees the article or news piece as only part of a broader constellation of relationships. Indeed, the text is only one part of a broader encounter between journalist, survivor, editor, and reader.


In doing so, we seek to move beyond the increasing body of research on the impact of exposure to overwhelming and traumatic events on journalists (Buchanan & Keats, 2011; Ananthan, 2017), and look at the very moment of encounter between journalists and those who have experienced gender-based violence. We thus propose to take the ‘encounter’ as a starting point for inquiry in order to explore the situation of professional journalists reporting on trauma, their preparedness to approach, hear and tell stories of survivors of violence, and the potentiality of this encounter to advance gender justice.


Bringing together scholars in media studies, history, education and social research, the project is centred around interviews with journalists, editors-in-chief and representatives of professional journalism bodies in Italy and the UK who report on crimes of violence against women. With this data, we propose to co-author an article examining the nexus of representations of violence against women in the media, and the encounter of journalist and survivor. In doing so, we not only propose a different way of studying the media (as a constellation of encounters), but we also ask what these encounters mean for how we conceive of work, and the emotional labour of reporting on domestic violence. This has important ramifications for journalistic practice and the ability of the media to advance social change.

Significance of the research

Our innovative methodological design also engages diverse stakeholders across the UK and Italy (journalists, editors, professional associations) with different knowledges and interests. These stakeholders will not only be essential to our research data, but we will work with them in the development of our outreach activities in order to widen our impact, both socially, in academia, and professionally in the media. This collaboration is a crucial first step to advancing understandings of the nexus between the encounter of journalist and survivor, representations of violence against women and girls in the media, and processes of social change and justice. Drawing on our teams' disciplinary breadth, this partnership will have concrete implications for the study of this complex interplay, as well as for journalistic practice in the UK and Italy. Finally, the collaboration shall contribute to the global discussion on the prevention of violence against women, one of the specific objectives of the Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Strategy (2018-2023), which is in line with the UN CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition to the European Parliament’s Resolutions that call for action to prevent violence against women. The prevention of VAW “could reduce violence by up to 10% and its direct economic costs by €7 billion per year.”


Research Collaborators:

Dr Jane Freeland (Principal Investigator)

Jane Freeland is a Research Fellow in Modern History at the German Historical Institute London. Her research focuses on the history of feminism in Germany, specifically the impact and meaning of women’s activism against domestic violence. Her book, Feminist Transformations and Domestic Violence Activism in Divided Berlin will be published in 2022 with Oxford University Press. From September 2022, she will be a Lecturer in History and Fellow in the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary University of London.

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Dr Alice Baroni

Alice Baroni is a STARS @ UNIPD research fellow, exploring the implementation and impact of AI technologies in the news industries in Italy and Finland. The TRISKELION project is funded by “NextGenerationEU" and the Supporting Talent in ReSearch@University of Padova programme. Prior to this project, she investigated the nexus between online-offline violence against women journalists in a comparative context. The project was supported by UNIPD, under the “MSCA Seal of Excellence” funding programme (2019-2021). She also worked on two EU-funded research projects, EVALUATE and EVOLVE, on evaluating and upscaling online learning through virtual exchange in different European countries (Helm & Baroni, 2020; Baroni & Helm, forthcoming). Her PhD and early research were in ethnographic and participatory research in contexts of urban violence and the relationships between conventional and new media (Baroni, 2015; Baroni & Mayr, 2017; 2018). She is a member of the SPRITZ Security and Privacy research group at Department of Mathematics (UNIPD) and of the Italian team of the Media for Democracy Monitor.

London Workshop - August 2022

The first meeting of the UK-Italy team took place in London, for the first session at The German Historical Institute where the team planned aspects of the project's structure, research questions, design and participant pool. We covered a range of options for dissemination of findings, resources for deliberation and plans for public engagement. The workshop continued for a second day at the University of Roehampton campus site (video capture).  





















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University of Padua Workshop - October 2022

The second meeting of the UK-Italy team took place in Padua, Italy, hosted at the Centro di Ateneo Elena Cornaro. The team covered the final stages of the project design for data collection. We took the opportunity to share the project plans with the wider research community at the University of Padua (celebrating it's 800th Anniversary) and also engage with students by delivering micro-sessions on research project design, interdisciplinary work and sharing knowledge of access to UK based resources to help inspire their body of work. Scenes from the city of Padua (video capture) and the project team.  





















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