Media toolkit for restorative justice organizations
May 19, 2011
from the introduction by Brunilda Pali:
Citizens generally do not make in-depth research on important issues, like crime and justice, and scientific research has shown that the public lacks a clear understanding of RJ. Research has also shown that the public relies especially on mass media for information that enables them to make opinions on crime and punishment.
The information transmitted through the media can come from different sources, and RJ organisations should be one of the main sources to provide information. But in order to gain access to the mass media, these organisations must first understand the media, and learn the skills and the techniques needed to communicate with them.
There are mainly two reasons why RJ organisations have neglected collaboration with the media. The first reason relates to the (perceived) damage the media do with regards to misinforming the public on crime and justice, and to the problematic exposure of crime victims and offenders. Based on these assumptions RJ practitioners have avoided journalists and media in general.
The second reason why RJ organisations have neglected the media (this goes hand in hand with neglect for RJ by the media) has been due to their failure to speak the ‘language’ of the media.
Several additional factors account for this fact. First of all, RJ cannot be easily reduced to a “sound bite” and can be difficult to define in terms to which the media are accustomed.
Moreover many restorative practices have been defined for the news media in their single effort programme or event context (e.g. an x programme, funded by x organisation, targeted x school), as opposed to the principles upon which they are based (e.g. RJ is based on the principle of dialogue, participation, and reconciliation).
This has led the media to ‘get bored’ with advertising RJ programmes, and has undermined the potential of the message inherent in RJ. We have heard several times from the media people statements like “we have already covered that…” Statements like this are worrying because our objectives go beyond self-advertising and aim instead at systemic changes in communication about crime and justice.
Media are the strongest medium for influencing the public and one of the most influential channels for transmitting our messages. Rather than criticizing them, we should better engage actively in their constant improvement. This toolkit will address several tools and several steps to reach good communication and cooperation levels with the media.