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News Media Engagement: Victim Autonomy and Choice

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2020
1 page

These guidelines from the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center address issues in a victim's interaction with news media personnel in the immediate or long-term aftermath of a mass violence incident (MVI).


The guidelines indicate it is always the victim's choice, not an obligation, to participate in an interview at any time. In making this decision, it is important to consider potential impacts of an interview, both positive and negative. The topics briefly addressed are the victim's privacy and confidentiality, potential trauma and stress stemming from an interview, providing public awareness of the impacts of MVIs, and the impact of information in the interview on criminal cases related to the MVI. Regarding the latter topic, any information a MVI victim provides in an interview can be used in a criminal investigation. There may be times when it is better not to give a media interview, such as when a judge issues a "gag order" during a trial. Regarding ways to limit the risk of potential trauma and stress of an interview, it is advised to set limits on what will be covered in the interview, be accompanied by a supportive person, and establish boundaries prior to and during the interview.