Changing media coverage of violence against women: Changing sourcing practices?

Margaret Simons, Jenny Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports on recent research concerning the use of sources by journalists reporting violence against women (VAW) in Australia. Until recently, VAW has been largely reported in the media by focusing on seemingly isolated events, rather than reporting VAW as a social problem. The international literature and Australian empirical studies show that journalists rely on law enforcement personnel as the expert “voices” that inform debate in the media, with an absence of survivors of violence, advocates, service providers and researchers. We report here on recent research focusing on intensive interviews in two Australian newsrooms, both of which made decisions to campaign for social change on the issue of VAW. We find that in the case of an “old media” newspaper, sourcing practices have not changed. Law enforcement personnel are still key—but changing attitudes within the police force were a key driver of the newsroom’s recognition of the scale and nature of the problem and the decision to launch a campaign. However, in the case of a commercial broadcast current events programme, social media played a key role both in sourcing practices and in spurring journalists to do more reporting on the issue. Social media was also increasingly being used to source subjects for interview, including survivors of domestic violence. We conclude with discussion of the implications of our findings for the domestic violence sector and its media relations, and question whether the media’s recent attention to VAW as a social issue will be sustained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1202-1217
Number of pages17
JournalJournalism Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • journalism
  • journalism sources
  • media
  • media reporting
  • social media
  • violence against women

Cite this