FixedIt: Man who brutally assaulted his partner for years doesn’t exist in the headline

The Morning Bulletin reported on a horrific story of domestic violence last week.

Over the space of about four years, Peter Mark Wright bashed his pregnant partner in the stomach with a hammer, tied her to a tree and disfigured her with caustic soda, broke her jaw, kept her prisoner in a remote farmhouse, tried to set her on fire and attacked her with a machete.

These are astoundingly vicious crimes. But the man who committed them isn’t present in the headline. The article itself describes the extent and nature of his violence and quoted the victim’s testimony of about the brutal injuries he caused her. The journalist did the job journalists are supposed to do in such cases but the headline diminished the crime by erasing the perpetrator from public awareness.

Invisible perpetrators are a constant in FixedIt. It matters because headlines are supposed to be a short summary of the article and when the article is about violence men commit against women and those men are invisible, the headline is not telling the story, it’s erasing the story

If all the violent crimes committed by men were reported in the active voice with the perpetrators and their crime as the subject of every headline, it would be overwhelming. Because it is overwhelming.

But we are journalists and it is not our job to erase the truth so our audience is not made to feel uncomfortable. Our job is to describe what is happening in our society. And the sad truth is that around 90 percent of violent crimes are committed by men. Avoiding this fact doesn’t make it less true but it does make it much more difficult to address the underlying cause.

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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