“If you want us to report the truth, talk to us”. Interactions between the media and people bereaved through homicide.

Laura Wajnryb McDonald1
1The University of Sydney, NSW

Homicide bereavement is devastating and complex. This trauma can be compounded by intense media attention in the immediate aftermath of the crime and can last for many years as newspapers periodically revisit cases through a range of mediums. This paper presents initial findings from a study that examines media reporting of homicide victims in the digital age. Semi-structured interviews conducted with families bereaved through homicide in New South Wales and Queensland, and with journalists from around Australia reveal varied interactions between these groups. From methods of contact, to approaches in coverage and the subsequent news stories and follow-up, the different ways journalists engage with bereaved families need to be accounted for in the context of victims’ rights. This presentation will outline some of the emerging themes from this empirical data such as the media imperatives of a demanding and rapidly changing landscape, and the motivations and techniques bereaved families have for communicating and dealing with the media.


Laura Wajnryb McDonald is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney studying the media’s reporting of homicide victims in the digital age. She has a Bachelor of Socio-Legal Studies with First Class Honours and has worked primarily as a Research Officer at the Justice Research Group at Western Sydney University on a number of ARC funded jury research projects and as a sessional academic convening and lecturing undergraduate Criminology courses at the University of New South Wales. Her research interests include post-homicide media studies, victimology, and cultural and visual criminology.


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