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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)

Bio coming soon ...

Dr Alice Baroni

Bio coming soon ...