BEDA 4 – Reporting murder, suicide, and sexual assault

Clocking in at a record-breaking 7 minutes before midnight, I remembered that I had yet to blog today.

Today I wanted to write a little bit about reporting, and why murder is so widely reported, whereas incidents of sexual assault and suicide are largely neglected by the media. But, because there’s only 6 minutes left, this post will have to be fairly brief.

Everybody knows about murder. It’s a huge crime, which is largely viewed as the worst crime one can commit (topped, only, I suppose, by genocide, or serial killings). Regardless, though, killing a person, or people, is seen as the worst thing you can do.

But what about sexual assault? In that case, the victim is left alive, ashamed, embarrassed (due to historical victim-blaming), and broken. And, like in murders, the victim’s loved ones are also affected. Now, I don’t want to make any judgement calls. I don’t want to say “Murderers should do less time than rapists”. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m not a judge, I’m a journalist.

What I’m saying is that sexual assault should be more broadly reported. It happens so frequently, but hear about murder so much more often. This could definitely be due to victims who don’t want to speak out (which is totally their prerogative), but I’m sure that there are some victims who would be willing to speak about their cases. Plus, newspapers don’t need to print names. It’s just that, in my opinion, there should be more awareness about the scope of sexual harassment.

This carries over, a little bit, to suicides. There are legitimate reasons for not reporting suicides (evidence shows that sometimes, reporting on suicide can lead to copycat incidents) but those situations can be avoided. If suicide is reported in a certain way, you can avoid the copycats. Similar to how you wouldn’t glorify murderers in news reporting.

But I think the real reason that we don’t report on suicides is because it isn’t easy. There’s nobody to blame. Journalists don’t know how to report on that, because the story doesn’t write itself, like in murders. The murderer is the bad guy, the victim is innocent. But in suicides, the perpetrator is the victim (or is at least one of the victims). It isn’t simple. How do you portray that?

As my favourite author, John Green, frequently says, truth resists simplicity.

Anyways, it’s now 2 minutes past midnight now, and I have to take a shower. I’ll probably come back later and edit this post for grammar and syntax. If not, sorry.

AND: I’m tagging this as “journalism”, which usually gets my posts a few extra views. If you’re one of those extra readers, feel free to comment below, because I’m happy to be challenged.


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