Section 1: Victim Media Advocacy
Crime Victims and Public Awareness
Impact on Your Organization
Educating the Media
Impact of Coverage Can Affect Victims
Types of News Stories
Major Concerns of Coverage
Impact On Victims of Specific Crimes
Cultural Competency
Victim Privacy v. Media
The Role of Victim Service Providers
Victim Referrals to the Media
Tips for Crime Victims and Survivors

Link to A Guide for Journalists Who Report on Crime and Crime Victims
Link to Crime Victim Outreach Tip Sheets
Victim Media Advocacy:
How to Facilitate Sensitive and Respectful Treatment of Crime Victims


a. Referring Victims
b. Considerations for Providers
c. Media Codes of Ethics


a. REFERRING VICTIMS: The Ethics of Providing Victims for Interviews

Victim service providers often receive requests from the media to “get a victim” for a story or program. Victims’ participation in interviews can offer a critical human touch to a story and personalize crime and its impact from a real person who has been harmed. However, careful consideration must be given to the victim’s safety, level of stress and trauma, and any possible negative effects of giving an interview.

Victim service providers can think and plan proactively to respond to media requests for victims:

Camerman and woman interviewing a man on the street (staged with professional models). The advocate should always offer to help the victim prepare for the interview and accompany him or her upon request.

Advocates’ knowledge of victim trauma and the advocate’s past experiences with specific news media can help determine the appropriateness of referring victims for media interviews. Referrals to victims should never be provided if—


b. CONSIDERATIONS FOR PROVIDERS: Ethical Considerations for Victim Service Providers

View of TV stage set from the side of a camera (staged with a professional model).Over the years, numerous ethical issues specific to victim advocacy and the news media have been identified (Seymour and Lowrance; National Organization for Victim Assistance; Michigan State University Victims and the Media Program). They are instructive in providing guidance to victim service providers who assist and/or represent victims who choose to deal with the media.

Victim service providers should—

c. Media Codes Of Ethics

 photo30  Most professional journalism associations have adopted “codes of ethics” that address a wide range of issues relating to responsible reporting. Some include language that is specific to news coverage of crime and victimization; i.e., “Treat all subjects of news coverage with respect and dignity, showing particular compassion to victims of crime or tragedy;” 2 and “Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.”3

The Project for Excellence in Journalism has developed a “Citizens' Bill of Journalism Rights:”

  1. Truthfulness.
  2. Proof that the journalists’ first loyalty is to citizens.
  3. That journalists maintain independence from those they cover.
  4. That journalists will monitor power and give voice to the voiceless.
  5. A forum for public criticism and problem solving.
  6. News that is proportional and relevant.4

Just as it is important for news media professionals to understand the concerns of victims and those who serve them, it is helpful for victim service providers to be familiar with the range of codes of ethics that guide journalists. Figure 1 includes electronic links to various journalism codes of ethics and guiding principles.

Journalism Entity

Web Site URL With
Codes of Ethics and Guidelines

American Society of Newspaper Editors

American Society of Magazine Editors

Associated Press Managing Editors

National Press Photographers Association

New York Times Ethical Journalism Guidebook

Radio and Television News Directors Association

Society of Professional Journalists

Community of Concerned Journalists

Project for Excellence in Journalism

Figure 1

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2. Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation, “Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct,”, accessed March 30, 2007.
3. Society of Professional Journalists, “Code of Ethics,”, accessed March 30, 2007.

4. Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2006, “Citizens Bill of Journalism Rights,” Washington, DC: Project for Excellence in Journalism.