Out of focus: ethical social media conversations and news coverage of gender- based violence

  • Trends
    Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Sector
    IT and Communications
  • Countries

About one in three women experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Unfortunately, when these incidents occur, victims often find themselves not only dealing with the aggression itself but also subjected to public scrutiny and commentary in the media and on social networks. The way these stories are covered is often biased, which poses the risk of perpetuating gender-based aggression. Journalistic responsibility and ethics are incredibly important in our society to combat violence.

Despite the often disheartening coverage of gender-based violence, it’s crucial to acknowledge the positive aspects as well. Bringing visibility to this serious issue through the media can raise awareness, spur legislative action, encourage reporting, and prompt societal condemnation. As Emma Watson, actress, activist, and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, aptly said, “Visibility is key. Only when we recognize the problem can we begin to address it.” In this way, media exposure, done right, can be a powerful tool for mobilizing action and driving change.

At LLYC, we understand the dual nature of media coverage and social discourse surrounding gender-based violence. While they can potentially exacerbate the problem, they also play a pivotal role in combating it. That’s why we initiated a study examining their portrayal in online media and social media across twelve countries.

We analyzed data from 226.2 million general news articles, 5.4 million news items related to gender violence, and 14 million messages on X (formerly Twitter) and compared them against international guidelines for responsible reporting on violence against women. The findings were clear: much work must be done to ensure media coverage aligns with ethical standards, particularly in social media mentions.

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