Ethical and informed media reporting

Definition

  • Media coverage of CSEA is ethical, informed and balanced, and reported in a sensitive manner with victims’ dignity and rights respected at all times. This is best approached by journalists and editors in partnership with all those involved preventing and tackling CSEA.
  • When interviewing and reporting on CSEA victims, special attention is paid to their right to privacy and confidentiality. Media reporting should not stigmatise victims or undermine their safety or anonymity and avoids categorisations or descriptions that expose a victim to negative reprisals through unethical or unconsidered reporting.
  • The best interests of a victim, both ethically and within their rights, are protected over any other consideration, including over advocacy for children’s issues and the promotion of child rights.
  • The media has a key role in overcoming the myths and stereotypes that surround CSEA.

Why is it needed?

  • The media is essential in placing the problem of CSEA in the minds of the public and on the political agenda. The best outcomes for victims and society as a whole will come from ethical, balanced and informed media reporting.
  • Reporting on CSEA must be handled sensitively and the welfare of the victim needs to be of paramount concern.
  • Investigations or legal proceedings could be prejudiced if sensitive information is revealed through unconsidered, inaccurate or unethical reporting.
  • This is not about influencing the media to report on CSEA in a way that supports any political or policy agenda.It is about ensuring that the best interests of the victim are considered and law enforcement investigations are not prejudiced in any reporting of cases, and that unhelpful myths about CSEA that prejudice against victims are not perpetuated.

Good practice

  • Reporting standards for CSEA can be regulated at four different levels: through Codes of Conduct which professional journalists adhere to, Guidelines which media organisations follow, Structures of Regulation where relevant responsible bodies oversee media organisations reporting standards and Legislation to underpin the rights of victims.
  • Details which could identify or undermine the safety of a child victim or cause the collapse of criminal proceedings should never be published.
  • When interviewing or photographing a child victim the consent of an appropriate adult and the child victim should be sought.
  • The anonymity of a child victim should be protected in law before, during and after legal proceedings.
  • Governments and NGOs should support efforts by the media to raise CSEA awareness and provide a directory of reliable sources on children’s rights to media channels for educated comment.
  • Productive and open lines of communication should exist between media editors, reporters and law enforcement to ensure accurate, timely and ethical reporting.
  • Information on the ethical and informed media reporting of CSEA should be included within the professional accreditation of journalists.