A choice of source changes the content of the coverage.
Some sources obscure the issue of domestic violence, whereas others highlight domestic violence.
On-the-scene witnesses—family, friends, neighbors and coworkers—often react with disbelief and denial and tend not to speak ill of the dead. In many cases, these types of sources will even change their views from denial to acknowledgment about the abuse in a matter of a few days. Even if police are used as a prime source, the tendency of the focus is strictly on the details of the crime.
When reports from the scene of the crime use these sources as primary sources, the story reinforces domestic violence as a problem of individual breakdown, a private family tragedy, not a social problem.
However, some reporters broaden their source list to include domestic violence experts, such as trained police, prosecutors, shelter providers, court personnel, public health workers, advocates and domestic violence survivors. When these sources are used, information surfaces about community responsibility and ways that the community can support people experiencing domestic violence. The coverage also provides readers with important information and resources.
Learn more about the importance of sources in the Best Practices section of the Online Guide.