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Media Matters The Voices and Faces Project. Our Mission A national network of survivors, sharing our voices, faces, and stories Providing a sense of solidarity/possibility.

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Presentation on theme: "Media Matters The Voices and Faces Project. Our Mission A national network of survivors, sharing our voices, faces, and stories Providing a sense of solidarity/possibility."— Presentation transcript:

1 Media Matters The Voices and Faces Project

2 Our Mission A national network of survivors, sharing our voices, faces, and stories Providing a sense of solidarity/possibility Showing the effects of violence on victims, families, communities Calling the culture to action We believe sexual violence is: A human rights/public health issue Not only a women’s issue More frequent than most imagine Regularly misrepresented in the media

3 Why We’re Here We seek to give “voice and face” to the issue of sexual violence To make the “unreal” real To challenge media stereotypes To show what is possible after violence To put the victim perspective front and center in public discussions about rape “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” - Marian Wright Edelman

4 What We Do, How We Do It Our survivors have: Lobbied for policy (Jenny’s Law, VAWA) Shared stories with the UN, Supreme Court, U.S. military Spoken on three continents Been featured in national media (People, Today Show, Dateline NBC) We actively engage media by: Placing pieces, writing stories Creating a book, cd and more “Talking Back” through our letter to the editor campaigns Offering survivor stories: voicesandfaces.org

5 Online: voicesandfaces.org Real faces, names, stories Share your own story Hotline that directs survivors to local rape crisis center (RAINN) Facts, links, resources Survivor story archive: first and only in America A great resource for your media allies seeking a survivor perspective

6 What We Do, How We Do It The CounterQuo initiative Who? Leaders from media, law, public health, the rape crisis community, academia, and faith-based groups Why? To challenge media and legal responses to sexual violence Resources at Counterquo.org  The CounterQuo Proclamation  The Rape Stats Project  Media Library  Reference materials CounterQuo Listserv: facilitating dialogue and information sharing

7 Where are we now?

8 Despite 30 years of progress by the rape crisis movement, significant challenges remain Incidence of sexual assault remains high Reporting by victims still well below average for crimes overall Prosecution and conviction rates are still low Victim civil rights not well-supported Treatment and support for victims still lacking, especially among minority and marginalized populations Media representations of victims problematic

9 Rape and sexual violence are discussed more openly than in the past Yet the loudest voices are often the most reactionary and uninformed We exist in an increasingly “uncivil society,” one not comfortable with victims in general, and rape victims in particular Language is not on our side: how often have you heard (or said) “Don’t be a victim” Media coverage less victim-sensitive than it was 20 years ago

10 We live in a “rape culture” The public fails to understand what constitutes consent Many still believe that there are “classes” of rape (“rape” vs. “rape-rape”) How are these attitudes manifested?  Victim blaming: “She asked for it”  Victim disbelieving: “Are you sure it wasn’t just a misunderstanding?”  Crime minimizing: “Shouldn’t you be over this by now?”

11 Recent high profile rape cases: Kobe Bryant Duke lacrosse team Ben Roethlisberger Catholic priest scandal Public Perception “A basketball star wouldn’t need to rape anyone to have sex.” “She’s a stripper, for God’s sake.” “Most girls would feel lucky to get to sleep with someone like Ben Roethlisberger.” “We love our parish priest and he’s done a lot of good. We need to forgive him and move on.”

12 Public increasingly doubts the victim in high- profile rape cases The notion that the false reporting of rape is commonplace has moved from the fringes to the mainstream What are the facts? Reliable research shows that only 2-8% of rape reports are false (versus unfounded) The incentives to remain silent are much greater than the incentive to falsely report In our “culture of disbelief,” victims are:  Implicitly encouraged not to report  Often not believed when they do report  Re-traumatized by public reactions to their claims

13 This “culture of disbelief” strikes a blow to our public safety Unreported rapes = unprosecuted criminals The bottom line: we need a communications strategy that combats the “myth of the false report.” It’s time for us to:  Seed the real facts/stats through letters to the editor, blog posts  Speak carefully but candidly about cases that do occur  Arm our staffs with the facts about false reporting  More effectively engage survivor voices to provide a balanced perspective

14 Creating a culture in which victims are believed means using reliable rape stats We are not speaking with “one voice” when it comes to data on rape (1 in 3? 1 in 4? 1 in 6?) We do not clearly define the forms of sexual violence to which we refer (sexual assault versus rape) We too often cite unsound or outdated data The result: increased public skepticism about the scope and scale of sexual violence

15 The solution: use only reliable and current data on rape Cite the source of the data, and make sure our allies do, too Make clear that rape is an underreported crime – even reliable statistics will not tell the full story Use survivor testimony with data when possible: the “human factor” is key A great resource: The CounterQuo Stats Project includes vetted and reliable data on rape and sexual violence: counterquo.org

16 Marketing to Make the Case

17 Our rape culture is fueled by the media In traditional or “mainstream” media (msm), content is controlled by a few: Directors and producers Editors and publishers Noted columnists/journalists For this reason, influencing msm content has historically been difficult The rise of “new media” allows us to have a stronger voice So, what does that mean for the movement to end sexual violence?

18 We live in the age of “everybody’s an expert” User generated content (UGC) gives us the power to drive the public discussion about rape: Sites, ‘zines and blogs Social Networks: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg YouTube, Vimeo The comment sections in online news sources Fewer people than ever consume traditional media Average age of print newspaper reader? Close to 60 Average age of local TV news viewer? 50+ Net: the future is online, so we must be, too!

19 Our opportunity, our challenge We have the chance to shape public opinion - but so do those who blame and shame victims We “vote” with our online voices so if we don’t weigh in, our issue “loses” In the online world, unreasonable perspectives are often given more weight than reasoned ones We can’t afford to “opt out” of a discussion that “undecideds” are listening to (on or offline) It’s time to get comfortable with new technologies in order to have a more influential voice

20 What do we need to do right now? Get our pro-victim message out often and loudly so that the sheer weight of opinion shifts Be credible spokespeople for our issue, using reliable stats and presenting our POV in a reasoned, considered way Appear in media that people trust Beware of “preaching to the choir” or the “unmovable” The 20/20/60 rule Respond immediately and forcefully to victim blaming or stereotyping - opting out means giving up

21 Want to change the rape culture? Collaboration is key! We can’t respond to every high-profile rape case - but we can find someone trusted who has Technology allows us to share important perspectives swiftly Circulate blog posts/letters to the editor/articles through Digg, Facebook, Tweets, etc. Develop and share “reporter’s toolkits” Use Google alerts and share what you find!

22 A Case History The Life of “Conduct Unbecoming”

23 Anne Ream of The Voices and Faces Project wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed on military honors burials for rapists  Piece ran 1/23/08  Featured the story of Jenny Bush, the survivor who inspired “Jenny Law,” a bill that would put an end to honors burials for rapists  Within 12 hours, we’d sent with a link to the article to media and opinion shapers across the country Also sent to our supporter database, asking them to forward the article, write letters to the editor in support

24 The Life of “Conduct Unbecoming” The piece was picked up by websites and ‘zines, and mainstream media outlets It was quoted, reprinted and discussed on blogs, online forums and MySpace/Facebook pages  Wherever people saw it, it originally came from a trusted, relevant source: the LAT This was “press that begat more press”: The LAT published a follow-up op-ed one week later

25 The Life of “Conduct Unbecoming” A “dear colleague” letter was sent to all members of 110 th Congress by Rep. Slaughter and Sanchez That letter included the text of Ream’s LAT piece, and directed Congress to act on “Jenny’s Law” Net: this brought our issue in front of the ultimate opinion shaper audience, elected officials

26 The Life of “Conduct Unbecoming” Washington Post Hartford Courant Orlando Sentinel Minneapolis Star Tribune Austin American Statesman Amsterdam NY Recorder Daylife.com – summary of news from around the world TFP Project forum.org Feministing.org Holly’s Fight to Stop Violence blog Feministblogs.org Texas Association Against Sexual Assault blog Alternet.org blogs Lostinlimaohio.com (true crime blog) Service Women’s Action Network Vet Voice.com

27 The Life of “Conduct Unbecoming” Results: We know that millions read and saw the LAT piece Its exposure was global, and reached people from a range of communities: Feminists News junkies True crime fans Military veterans, active duty personnel, brass Congress, other policy makers Survivors and advocates Media makers and opinion shapers Those in the on and offline worlds

28 What was the impact of the piece? Generated fresh public discussion about the US Military’s response to sexual violence Re-ignited interest in “Jenny’s Law” on Capitol Hill and among the general public Personalized a public policy issue through the power of Jenny’s survivor story Contributed to the creation of a “new coalition”: service people and anti-rape advocates working together for passage of an important law

29 D eveloping the Tools A Workshop

30 Developing the Tools Look over the “Marketing IQ Test” How much are you already doing to respond to and drive media coverage of rape in your region? What do you think you could do better, now? What is standing in your way?

31 Developing the tools: the power of YOU Some things you can do now : Cultivate a relationship with local journalists whose work you like/trust Seed story ideas: you are an expert, so reach out! Build an database and use it when you need to spread a point of view or encourage a mass response Comment on blogs, FB pages, Zines: never stay silent in the face of damaging opinions Participate in influential online discussion groups Get comfortable with Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube When in doubt: ask an intern or younger staffer! Write letters to the editor: the chances of a good letter being printed are excellent

32 Summary

33 What We Believe Advocacy and direct services must continue to be movement priorities. But we MUST also invest in strategic communications! Individual survivor stories help the public better understand global truths about violence against women. It’s our job to get them out there! Time and investment in communications is not a “nice to have,” it’s a “must-have” if we seek to change minds, hearts and public policies! We are losing the message wars. We need to change in order to change that!

34 What We Believe For rape survivors, the enemy of change is silence Our job is to find new ways and places for survivor voices and perspectives to be heard The good news? It’s never been easier to share our stories

35 What We Believe Survivor voices are not enough We need your voice, too! Stand up, speak out, dare to disagree with conventional wisdom Know that media need not be the enemy - it can be a powerful tool when used and engaged strategically Let’s go!

36 Appendix

37 Developing the Tools –Definitions Blog: “A website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs.” (Wikipedia)

38 Developing the Tools –Definitions Social network service: “Focuses on the building and verifying of online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others... (have) various ways for users to interact, such as chat, messaging, , video, voice chat, file sharing, blogging, discussion groups, and so on… ( Wikipedia)

39 Developing the Tools –Definitions Viral marketing: “Marketing techniques that use preexisting social networks to produce increases in brand awareness… It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral marketing is a marketing phenomenon that facilitates and encourages people to pass along a marketing message voluntarily… It is claimed that a satisfied customer tells an average of three people about a product/service he/she likes, and eleven people about a product or service which he/she did not like. Viral marketing is based on this natural human behavior.” (Wikipedia)


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