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Working with the Media

TV interview2The print and electronic news media often exert a powerful influence in debates about crime and justice. There is a dynamic relationship between newsmakers and the news media. Reporters need people to interview, and even more, people who can help them find good stories, information and issues. Newsmakers (and would-be newsmakers) need to have their point of view explained to the public in a compelling and accurate way.

Crime is of great interest to the public. Many studies have tried to determine whether media reporting makes people afraid or their fear makes them interested in media coverage of crime. There is probably truth in both propositions. These create opportunities for people with different perspectives on crime and punishment. However, it is important to deal with the media in a professional manner. This is not an impossible task at all. It can be learned.

This section offers advice on how to work with the media and what to do when reporters contact you.

Media toolkit for restorative justice organisations. Brunilda Pali (2010). Leuven: European Forum for Restorative Justice.
From the Toolkit by Brunilda Pali: This toolkit was prepared within the framework of the project Building social support for restorative justice, implemented by the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) and the partner organisations, between April 2008 and April 2010, and co-financed by the European Commission.
Marketing and Media. (National Institute of Justice, USA). 2007.
This section describes innovative ways to market the concept of restorative justice to criminal justice system practitioners as well as to the media. It provides information highlighting how each component of the criminal justice system benefits by embracing restorative justice. (Excerpt) Provides information for specifically working with media outlets as well as talking points for various audiences such as prosecutors, law enforcement, and judges.
FAIR's Media Activist Kit
FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) is a North American advocacy group that believes that too often the media present an unfair picture of important issues. This set of materials will be a useful resource if you believe that media coverage in your community is too one-sided, and if there is sufficient freedom of speech for you to be able to mount a meaningful protest. This manual provides an analysis of why FAIR believes the media choose sensational or unbalanced coverage, and gives suggestions on how to counter that.
Basic Press Outreach for Mission-Based Organizations
Like fund raising, press relations is an ongoing cultivation process. Your organization's strategy for press coverage needs to go beyond trying to land one big story; you want the press to know that you are THE organization to contact whenever they are doing a story on a subject that relates to your organization's work, and that you are a reliable source for information and stories. In short, you want to be quoted or referenced in a variety of stories, not just one. (excerpt)
Steps for Turning Your Organization into a Heavily Quoted Source
Would you like to have reporters call Prison Fellowship on a regular basis for quotes, perspectives and information on prison and justice issues? It is possible, although it will take some work. This article outlines six steps that will help you get started.
Managing the Media
This handbook was written by a group of social justice activists that has been successful in getting its stories carried by the media. Especially interesting and useful is the interview with a reporter at the end of the manual about effective and ineffective ways to work with reporters.
Placing an Op Ed
"Op Ed" is an American term for an article with commentary or opinion written by someone who is not a journalist with the newspaper, and that appears in the same section of the newspaper as its editorials. It has different names in other countries; nevertheless, the suggestions here will be useful in advocacy.
Media Tips
Brief suggestions on working with the media.
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