Fixed It: Alleged violent perpetrator’s excuses are not the headline

ABC News reported that a Canberra man was charged with one count of aggravated animal cruelty causing death and denied bail.

According to the article, the man gave police several excuses for the 17 minutes he allegedly spent kicking, punching, throwing the dogs before attacking it with a shovel. One of them made the headline.

The final paragraph of the article states: “Under ACT law, attacking an animal belonging to a family member or ex-partner can be defined as family violence.” This did not make the headline.

This is an ongoing problem with court reporting. It’s a very difficult job and court reporters have an obligation to report what happens in court, regardless of their feelings about it. That does not mean the excuses alleged perpetrators of violence make for their actions should be the focus of the headlines. Headlines are supposed to tell readers the main point of the story and give them a reason to read more about it. When the headline only gives the alleged perpetrator’s point of view, the victim and the wider context of the case are lost.

As is far too often the case with the Fixes on court reports, the problem here is not the article or the journalist who wrote it. It’s the headline.

Headlines matter and this is why FixedIt exists.

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron


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