Reponsibilities and Ethics
Nine ethical principles to consider when developing a journalistic piece:
Get the facts right.
Be specific when mentioning gender-based violence, and only report on criminal proceedings if you understand the legal processes involved.
Use accurate language, not euphemisms.
Be fair and honest with interviewees.
You have an extra duty of care to protect potentially vulnerable sources, such as survivors of GBV.
Don’t judge or discriminate (by focusing on the survivor’s nationality, for example).
Don’t mention details that could be interpreted as blaming the survivor (e.g. clothes she wore).
Distinguish between what is ‘in the public interest’ and what is ‘of interest to the public’. Focus on assessing and addressing the problem of gender-based violence.
Do not sensationalise or use vulgar language.
Respect the privacy of both GBV survivors and bereaved families.
Be wary of offering specific details that can enable viewers or readers to identify a survivor or witness.
Always protect your sources. It is your right as a journalist.
Gain relevant local knowledge as to how to ensure this – through local organisations and agencies.
Extend this protection to fixers, translators, drivers, interviewees and others helping you with your story.
Survivors and witnesses who are brave enough to speak out about GBV but not properly protected are at risk of being shunned or even killed.
Payment can influence the nature of an interview, encourage a survivor to give false testimony, pressurise those not ready to speak out and make it difficult for other journalists to get an interview.
Contact organisations working on gender-based violence issues in the first instance before attempting to secure an interview.
Show sensitivity to people who have experienced grief or trauma.
Respect their privacy.
Be aware that interviewees may be inexperienced in dealing with the media.
Understand that there is a balance between the public’s right to information and a criminal suspect’s right to a fair trial.
Empower survivors by putting them at the centre of the healing process.
Recognise that each person is unique, reacts differently to gender-based violence, has different strengths, resources and coping mechanisms, has the right to decide who should know about what has happened to them, and what should happen next.
Remember that gender-based violence is a manifestation of power inequality. If you – as a person in a position of power – impose your perspective, you can unintentionally create another experience where survivors feel further disempowerment.
Prioritise the best interests of survivors and focus on safety, confidentiality, respect, and non-discrimination.