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Making headlines – why language matters when reporting violence against women – by Kirsty Strickland

Journalist Kirsty Strickland (@kirstystricklan) writes for NUJ Scotland about the importance of use of language in news headlines to raise awareness of violence against women and dispel common myths and misconceptions as part of the Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project.

In the aftermath of the harassment scandal sparked by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein a movement emerged which dominated the news agenda for the latter part of 2017.

One of the most powerful and influential elements of this news coverage was the clear link made between men abusing power and wider structural inequality. Inevitably, what followed was a predictable and misogynistic suggestion that women who spoke out may be lying or maliciously over-reacting to their experiences to gain fame or money. Broadly speaking though, the power dynamic of the individuals involved (and the imbalance between them) was discussed and analysed meaningfully across various media platforms.

For women, this wasn’t new information. We understand that violence against women is both a cause and consequence of gender inequality. But for media outlets to make this connection and dedicate time to discussing it properly was something new and refreshing.

It’s important to acknowledge though, that had the initial story not focused on the conduct of famous men it’s unlikely that the women speaking out about harassment and sexual abuse would have been given such a receptive audience. Continue reading

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NUJ sponsor best news article category in Write to End Violence Against Women Awards

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The NUJ is delighted to be sponsoring an award at this year’s Write to End Violence Against Women Awards.

The NUJ has been supporting the awards since their launch and this year, the fifth year, will be sponsoring the ‘Best Article – News’ category.

The union has been working to shine a light on the issue of women’s representation both by the media and in the media.

Violence against women is often in the news, especially now. It is on a spectrum ranging from victim blaming, locker room banter and sexist attitudes to violence, rape and murder.

Even apart from recent and current events, its prevalence in society makes it a ‘hot topic’ for reporters and its complex nature makes it an interesting issue for feature writers. However, the fact that violence against women is so complex can mean that even journalists with the best of intentions can misrepresent some of the issues and perpetuate myths that are harmful to women. Continue reading


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A Stronger Voice for Women in the Media

Nevertheless, she persisted

It’s almost 50 years since equality laws were introduced and yet women are still fighting to be heard in the newsroom and in the news.

Women in senior editorial roles are very much in the minority.  Diversity in the newsroom is sadly lacking.  And this reflects in the news agenda, determined by men – often, white middle-aged men (although we shouldn’t use stereotypes).

Women are still judged on appearance and as they get older, they are often unseen and unheard.  The invisible woman is a common complaint, both in terms of recognition of their years of experience and their achievements as a journalist. Continue reading