The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has today issued guidance for editors and journalists on reporting sexual offences, alongside information for survivors on contact with the media.
The guidance for journalists and editors outlines key questions in line with the Editors’ Code and includes a number of useful case studies. It includes information on legal obligations, the rules on anonymity and avoiding jigsaw identification, and advises on language and interviewing survivors of sexual violence.
The information for survivors is designed to help people understand the rules which newspapers and magazines regulated by IPSO must follow when reporting on sexual offences. It informs them about what to expect from journalists, empowering them to speak to the media should they wish to, and to know where to go for help if they do not.
The information was developed after discussions with organisations which provide support to survivors of sexual offences and domestic violence, including Rape Crisis, Solace Women's Aid, LimeCulture and Women’s Aid. IPSO members of staff also met with survivors of sexual offences and domestic violence, as part of the Angles project being run by On Road Media.
Charlotte Urwin, IPSO’s Head of Standards, said:
“Part of IPSO’s wider regulatory role is to provide guidance, training and engagement which leads to tangible improvements in press standards.
“We recognise the importance of supporting journalists and editors to report responsibly on sexual offences, and helping them to understand both the legal framework and requirements of the Editors’ Code.”
“The survivors we met talked about how sensitive media reporting of sexual offences helped them to speak about their own experiences and encouraged them to seek support. We wanted to help survivors who may come into contact with the media and have produced information which we hope they, and organisations who work in this area, will find useful.”
Nathalie McDermott, CEO at On Road Media, said:
“This guidance has come at such an important time for survivors who are speaking out in greater numbers since the #MeToo movement started. Most of them are doing so without support, without knowing their rights or how journalists work, or how to share their expertise and experiences on their own terms.”
“We also know the difference sensitive reporting can make to survivors reading an article about abuse, and we welcome this support for journalists who are covering these sensitive issues in an increasingly time pressured work environment.”