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Symposium and Fund for Journalism on Domestic Violence

Program Description: 

A woman protests against domestic violence as she joins other women's rights advocates in an International Women's Day march in downtown Los Angeles, California on March 8, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

Domestic violence affects tens of millions of Americans each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) indicate that about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, with over 43 million women and 38 million men reporting psychological aggression by an intimate partner sometime in the past.  In California, more than half of families have been touched by domestic violence, according to a 2017 study, yet for the most part, the issue is rarely discussed in public policy circles or reported on by journalists. Media outlets mostly treat incidents as "cops" items, if they cover them at all, as opposed to treating domestic violence as a public health problem. 

The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism hosted a two-day virtual Symposium on Domestic Violence on Zoom from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on consecutive Fridays, April 16 and April 23, followed by the launch of a Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund.  We talked about the role of the "twin pandemics" of COVID-19 and systemic racism on domestic violence and lasting after effects. Attendees heard from leading journalists who shared a vision for trauma-informed reporting on domestic violence. 

The Center awarded nine grants from its  Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund to journalists from around the country proposing substantive projects on domestic violence. Most grantees  received a $2,000 reporting stipend to defray costs, and larger grants of $2,500 to $10,000 were awarded instead for exceptionally ambitious reporting proposals, with documented additional costs, including those that involve newsroomwide, multi-newsroom collaborations (such as print and broadcast partners), mainstream-ethnic media collaborations or news outlet/community or youth storyteller projects. We are also interested in receiving applications from California journalists for projects that involve partnering with community-based organizations and their clients in first-person storytelling. Those stories must involve participants in California. The journalists selected as Domestic Violence Impact Fund Grantees are receiving five months of mentoring from a veteran journalist as they usher their reporting projects to publication or broadcast.  Several are also receiving community engagement mentoring and a $1,000-$2,000 engagement grant as well. 

Click here for a list of the grantees and links to their profiles and blog posts introducing their projects.

The Center awarded nine grants from its  Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund to journalists from around the country proposing substantive projects on domestic violence. Most grantees  received a $2,000 reporting stipend to defray costs, and larger grants of $2,500 to $10,000 were awarded instead for exceptionally ambitious reporting proposals, with documented additional costs, including those that involve newsroomwide, multi-newsroom collaborations (such as print and broadcast partners), mainstream-ethnic media collaborations or news outlet/community or youth storyteller projects. We are also interested in receiving applications from California journalists for projects that involve partnering with community-based organizations and their clients in first-person storytelling. Those stories must involve participants in California. The journalists selected as Domestic Violence Impact Fund Grantees are receiving five months of mentoring from a veteran journalist as they usher their reporting projects to publication or broadcast.  Several are also receiving community engagement mentoring and a $1,000-$2,000 engagement grant as well. 

Program Highlights Included:

Essential Insights for Reporting on Domestic Violence, with award-winning journalist and author Rachel Louise Snyder, author of "No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us," in conversation with noted domestic violence reporter Melissa Jeltsen 

Trauma-informed Storytelling with investigative reporter Brandon Stahl, a 2019 Pulitzer Prize co-finalist for the series, “Denied Justice,” which revealed widespread criminal justice failures in Minnesota in response to sexual assault reports and New York-based freelance reporter Andrea González-Ramírez, who recently reported on an epidemic of domestic violence in Puerto Rico. Conversation moderated by freelance reporter Natasha Senjanovic, who is currently producing the Pulitzer Center-backed project “Surging in Silence,” examining the effects of the pandemic on domestic and sexual violence
 
Diverse Communities and Domestic Violence with Karma Cottman, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Ujima Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community; Pablo Espinoza, co-executive director of San Francisco-based Community United Against Violence and Grace Huang, director of policy at the Oakland-based Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
 
Looking for Remedies Outside the Criminal Justice System with Mimi Kim, executive director and founder of  Creative Interventions and associate professor of social work at California State University, Long Beach, with Leigh Goodmark, JD, Marjorie Cook Professor of Law at the University of Maryland and founder of the law school’s Gender Violence Clinic
 
How Domestic Violence Trauma Affects Our Brains, Memory and Long-term Health with Karestan C. Koenen, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health. and Eve Valera, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the Harvard University School of Medicine
 
How to Tell Data-informed Stories on Domestic Violence despite Messy Data with California-based multimedia journalist Salma Loum, creator of The SAFE Project, an interactive data visualization that helps sexual assault survivors and journalists understand the roadblocks of a sexual assault survivor must get around to report his or her assault, and MaryJo Webster, data editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a Pulitzer Prize co-finalist for the series, “Denied Justice."
 

How to Access Transcripts of Symposium Sessions

Write Andrew Perez at cehjf@usc.edu to request transcripts of the sessions. 

 

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The USC Center for Health Journalism's Impact Funds provide reporting support — funding and mentoring — to journalists who think big and want to make a difference. 

Apply today for our National Impact Fund for reporting on health equity and health systems across the country. 

Apply today for our California Impact Fund for reporting that brings untold stories to light in the Golden State. 

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