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#EdShift Chat: How to Discuss, Teach Journalism Students to Report on Sexual Abuse

There is perhaps no more visible and complex topic right now than sexual assault and harassment. Sparked by the #MeToo movement, conversations about gender and sexual abuse are commonplace as media headlines continually bring awareness to these issues.

For journalism educators, discussions in classrooms have become more pointed, while courses that teach reporting see the need to address questions of coverage about such intense issues.

In recent EducationShift articles by Tracy Everbach and Candi Carter Olson, the journalism educators and researchers shared thoughts about how to engage in meaningful discussions about sexual violence and harassment in journalism courses, as well as presented a four-step guide to helping students learn to report on sexual abuse as professional journalists.

“Journalists reporting on these types of stories need to know some of the basics about sexual abuse and violence, as well as myths that continue to be perpetuated,” Olson and Everbach said. “Accurate and fair journalism is essential to changing rape culture. It also is the first step to changing sexual harassment behaviors in newsrooms.”

For February’s #EdShift Twitter chat, we wanted to open up the discussion to see how students and educators are dealing with sexual assault and harassment, both in their reporting and in the classroom — along with how instructors are addressing the complexities. 

The chat took place on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. Eastern / 12 noon Central / 10 a.m. Pacific Time using the #EdShift hashtag on Twitter.

Participants included: Tracy Everbach of the University of North Texas; Barbara Friedman of the University of North Carolina; Cassandra Jaramillo of The Dallas Morning News; and Ensung Kim of Eastern Illinois University. Candi Carter Olson of Utah State University both participated and moderated the event.

Amanda C. Bright :Amanda C. Bright is a former professional journalist who later spent a decade as a scholastic journalism adviser of both newspaper and yearbook in Illinois. Currently, Bright is the EducationShift editor, a journalism instructor at Eastern Illinois University and the Media Content Coordinator for Indiana State University Online; she also serves as the Social Media Director and Web Co-Administrator for the Illinois Journalism Education Association.