Reporters have a responsibility to tell the truth and inform citizens on news events. We also have the responsibility to accurately tell survivors’ stories and not sensationalize people’s experiences.
It’s fair to say that Jeffrey Epstein’s death gained more traction than his victim’s stories. News outlets in detail described his death and have continued to speculate on his final moments since then, but few have profiled those who suffered from his unconscionable crimes.
With all respect to human life, journalism focusing on Epstein’s death and less on his victims is grossly improper. It negates the victim’s experience, holding onto the stereotype that victims are somehow responsible to what happened to them, sensationalizes their pain and uses careless language to undermine the brutality of what the victim is going through.
Obviously the NYT reporter soliciting money from Epstein is the biggest take away here but ABC News producing a major story w/his victims then killing the piece is just as egregious. The stories reporters know and don't tell is the best way to measure bias https://t.co/DpNioOsExP
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) August 23, 2019
An article from NPR listed news sites such as Vanity Fair, ABC, and The New York Times that had information on Epstein’s crimes before but neglected to release these reports due to Epstein’s influence.
This is true of sexual assault cases but also domestic violence and gun violence reports that are publicized by the media. Mass events like shootings and incidents involving famous people such as this case tend to be over-reported and incidents involving gun violence, suicide, domestic violence and sexual assault are under-reported. Simply put, news coverage of violence is distorted, and social aspects of violence such as how certain minority and low-income communities receive less financial aid or security and are more susceptible to violence due to lack of opportunities, jobs, and resources become stereotyped as “trash” and are ignored.
Of course, this is not all the fault of the media. Due to underfunded budgets, many reporters may feel pressured due to deadlines that they tend to minimize or rush through the story. That doesn’t even begin to broach on the topics of social and political biases news outlets uphold and try to reflect, and the viewpoints sponsors of these outlets accept or dislike.
The media isn’t doomed to continue repeating these stories. There just needs to be a better outline for media outlets to follow when reporting on violence issues like these that tell the victim’s survivor story in a way that tells their narrative and is less dramatized. Media outlets also need to have better resources and to be more conscientious of the narratives they publish. I have hope that the news will move forward in a positive way, we just need to find some way to call for outlets to unify on this issue and that means maybe contacting these sexual assault organizations for better ways to release information and to be conscientious of the victim’s desires.
The media, like other institutions, is known to have a bad rap. For some people such as racial and ethnic minorities, the news media depicts them negatively and makes them feel uneasy to be in any way involved in speaking out against violence done unto them. Other minority groups also feel the same unease with news outlets if they do come forward and are included in a story. Despite these marks against the media, they have the power to change everything. I say this as a journalist and I say this as a survivor.
Working with the media to have a better circulation of stories involving violence is a hard thing but is something that can change how readers and citizens understand violence, the social and psychological effects and how we can make a better and preventative future so people aren’t as impacted by violence. In conclusion, Jeffrey Epstein’s death isn’t really about his death. It’s an example of how the media isn’t focusing on who really matters — the victims who are alive and well and deserve justice. So, yes, I don’t care about Epstein’s death. I care about who we can help instead.
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