Dealing with the media
This can be a difficult issue. Some victims want to tell their story and welcome the publicity. Others prefer to maintain their privacy. If you are thinking of giving any information to the media1 about what has happened, bear in mind the following:
First, you should not speak to the media about the case if someone has been arrested or if there are any legal proceedings in progress. It could affect the case. Also, if police are still investigating, media publicity could affect their enquiries and you should discuss this with police before speaking to the media. If in doubt about the legal position, check first before giving any information to the media.
Second, the media report may be different from what you expect. The media will gather information from many sources. Your case may be presented in a way you do not agree with, and this can be upsetting.
Third, once the matter becomes public through the media, you or your family may encounter unwanted attention.
Be aware, for example, that media publicity might mean that your children are the subject of comment or gossip at school.
Remember that you do not have to speak to the media, even if they are very persistent. Your first contact with the media might occur while you are feeling confused and disoriented, common reactions after a crime.
You are entitled to:
- say “no” to an interview
- require anyone who visits your home uninvited to leave, and call the police if they refuse to do so
- refuse an interview with a specific reporter even though you may have granted interviews to other reporters
- say “no” to an interview even though you have previously granted interviews
- choose the time and place for interviews
- exclude children from interviews
- not answer any question you do not wish to answer
- speak with one reporter at a time
- request a correction if a report is inaccurate
- ask that offensive photographs or visuals not be used
- set conditions to protect your privacy or safety.
For instance, you could give an interview on condition that your face be obscured, your name not used or your voice altered, or you could stipulate no photographs in a newspaper interview.
If you choose to speak with the media, consider whether you wish to give an interview, read out a statement, or simply release a written statement. Consider also whether you wish to deal with the media yourself, or use someone else, perhaps someone experienced in dealing with the media, as a go-between.
If you do decide on an interview, decide in advance what you want to say and what you do not wish to comment on. Be cautious about what is recorded or filmed. Once an interview is recorded, a photograph is taken or an event filmed, you have little control over how it is used.
Further reading: Media guide for victims of crime (PDF 314KB) - link to PDF document
If you are not happy with the way a person from the media treats you or any of your family, you can complain to:
- the media organisation concerned, ie the newspaper or television station
- the Australian Press Council (for print media)
- the Australian Communications and Media Authority (for broadcasting-related inquiries).
Keep your complaint specific.
Contact details if you want to complain about your treatment by the media
Check the White Pages telephone book for specific publishers or broadcasters.
The Australian Press Council
Phone: (02) 9261 1930 or 1800 025 712
The Australian Communications and Media Authority
For all radio-communications enquiries, please call 1300 850 115;
For all broadcasting-related enquiries, please call 1800 226 667;