“The media has a great responsibility” – Justice Cummings-Edwards

– Media guidelines for reporting interpersonal violence launched

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, July 16, 2020

The University of Guyana on Thursday released its Guyana Media guidelines for reporting interpersonal violence to encourage media professionals to be more responsible and sensitive when reporting on domestic and sexual violence.

The virtual launch was held in collaboration with UNICEF and the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Madame Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards.

Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag).

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana Prof. Paloma Mohamed-Martin

President of the Guyana Press Association, Nazima Raghubir

Justice Cummings-Edwards called on media professionals to be more responsible with their reporting particularly in light of their social influence. She cited the sensationalising of cases of interpersonal violence.

“We have media reports of interpersonal violence which can trivialize or which can sensationalise a very complex issue or which can pivot or highlight the critical issue and that’s why you are so critical members of the media,” the Chancellor noted.

In her remarks, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guyana Prof. Paloma Mohamed-Martin opined that training and guidance are of paramount importance for media professionals to deliver stories to the public that are accurate, fair and in keeping with guidelines that are designed to protect the victims and alleged perpetrators.

” If the law says you cannot report or you cannot name the person or put the person’s face if they’re an alleged perpetrator and you shouldn’t put victims’ addresses…if people know what is wrong… they will not do it,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

It was highlighted that several social scientists and legal minds played a role in the sculpting of the media guidelines. Among the recommendations listed were:

  1. The avoidance of episodic oversimplification/sensationalisation
  2. Being cognisant of social behaviours and consequences.
  3. Unintentional perversion of justice; journalists are often the first to tell the story, therefore they must be careful not to influence the case with assumptions and partiality.
  4. Importance of imaging and being aware of the message images can send, in particular front-page stories.
  5. The use of appropriate language.

President of the Guyana Press Association, Nazima Raghubir explained that it was important that the guidelines be dynamic to cater to changes in media agencies and with media personnel.

The media guidelines for reporting on interpersonal violence joins a long list of principles and other guidelines used in the pursuit of informing the public. There is no doubt that these guidelines come at a critical time when interpersonal violence, as well as other forms of violence, remain a prominent focus of our society,” Raghubir said.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing sexual violence, domestic violence or any other form of intimate partner violence, please call 640-1011 or 0910 for free resources and help.

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