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and extent of domestic violence is critical to enlightened policymaking.4 The courts, law enforcement and the medical community address domestic violence daily and know something of its characteristics and consequences. These institutions are, however, limited in their ability to educate the public by both the nature of their responsibilities and their lack of means to disseminate information. The premise of this article is that improvements in domestic violence reporting can be achieved in any community by educating local media through the distribution of a “domestic violence reporting guide.� A meaningful guide can be produced relatively easily by interested persons or organizations, including domestic violence organizations, courts, lawyers and political candidates, using the template in Appendix B to this article.

THE P ERCEPTION

AND R EALITY OF D OMESTIC VIOLENCE s a family court judge who deals daily with family abuse and has studied the issue, I recognize characteristic patterns of domestic violence directed at an intimate partner and those who interfere with an abuserâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s control of that partner. The reporting of such domestic violence crimes usually follows a characteristic pattern too. Unfortunately, some typical reporting devices perpetuate false stereotypes or convey messages about domestic violence that are inaccurate. An abuserâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s friends and family members who describe him5 as a good person ZKRÂłVQDSSHG´DUHXVHGDVQHZVVRXUFHV$NLOOHUÂśVMXVWLÂżFDWLRQFRPPXQLFDWHGWKURXJKDVsociates, that the violence was caused by the murdered spouse, or by the â&#x20AC;&#x153;system,â&#x20AC;? is reported. <HWWKHVFRSHRIWKHHQWLUHVRFLHWDOSUREOHPRIGRPHVWLFYLROHQFHLVUDUHO\PHQWLRQHGLQFRYHUage. The opinions and expertise of domestic violence advocates and the availability of resources for self-protection are infrequently reported. Such reporting excuses the criminal, blames others for the abuserâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crimes and leaves the public uninformed about domestic violence.

A

Media Reporting of Domestic Violence

32164-rcm_2-2 Sheet No. 47 Side B

More than a dozen books, articles and studies have appeared in recent years that consider the quality of news reporting of domestic violence. These works were produced from a variety of perspectives, including those of feminists, scholars, domestic violence advocacy organizations and journalists, in the United States and abroad. A remarkable consensus exists that a IHZZHOOGHÂżQHGFKDQJHVLQUHSRUWLQJFDQUHPHG\FRPPRQVKRUWFRPLQJVLQFRYHUDJH

THE F EMINIST C RITIQUE The earliest analysts were self-described â&#x20AC;&#x153;feministsâ&#x20AC;? who assert that the existing social order subjugates women and perpetuates male dominance.6 Feminists argue that participants in society, including reporters, accept this discriminatory status quo as natural and fail to recognize the cultural mechanisms responsible for its maintenance.7 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Violence against women is framed by the news so as to support, sustain, and reproduce male supremacy.â&#x20AC;?8 Abusers are absolved of responsibility while victims are ignored or blamed.9

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4. Charlotte Ryan; Mike Anastario; & Alfredo DaCunha, Changing coverage of domestic violence murGHUV$ORQJLWXGLQDl experiment in participatory communication, 21 J. I NTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE 209 (2006), 210-211, available at http://wwwUDFLDOHTXLW\WRROVRUJUHVRXUFHÂżOHVU\DQSGI; Susan B. Sorenson, Julie G. Peterson Manz, & Richiard A. Berk, News media coverage and the epidemiology of homicide, 1510, 88 A MER . J. P UBLIC H EALTH 1510 (1998). 5. See point 14 in Appendix A. 6. Marian Meyers, 1HZV&RYHUDJHRI9LROHQFH$JDLQVW:RPHQ(QJHQGHULQJ%ODPH at 27 (S AGE P UBLICATIONS I NC . 1997). 7. ,G, at 19-21 (1997). 8. ,G, at 8. 9. ,G, at 61-64, 115.

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Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Spring 2012  

This issue of the Journal covers Facebook service, Judgespeak and more.

Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Spring 2012  

This issue of the Journal covers Facebook service, Judgespeak and more.

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