Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NYC, PDX, Cosmo and Court TV...

A few months ago I received an action alert from the Media Response Project run through the NY City Alliance Against Sexual Assault about an article in Cosmo magazine entitled "A New Kind of Date Rape You Must Know About {September 2007 issue, pg. 198}. The project is a partnership through a media activist network called Take Back the News and the NYC alliance and focuses on responding to misrepresentation of rape and sexual assault in the media (which this article in Cosmo most definitely did). Every so often I will receive information about recent media coverage with a call to action for widespread response. The Project asserts on their website that "Media activism, such as sending a Letter to the Editor, corresponding directly with journalists, and writing Op-Ed pieces can change how our society understands the scope and nature of sexual violence. As a Media Response Project activist, you can make a tangible difference". I definitely believe this, especially when we coordinate " with others to create a critical mass of action - and results".

Each month or so they have an informal gathering at a public or private space for people to get together and work on letters and emails in order to respond to various coverage that has appeared in the media. You can read some of the past responses as well as a copy of my letter to Cosmo which they have included on their website at http://www.nycagainstrape.org/action_mrp_response_23.html. Additionally, Cosmo received so much criticism for the misinformation in their article that they are holding a forum in New York City this week with the authors of the article for a panel entitled "The Changing Definition of Date Rape" (moderated by a correspondent from Court TV!). The Media Response Project alerted us to the fact that Cosmo again failed to have any representation from sexual assault programs or members of the NY City Alliance Against Sexual Assault participate in the panel discussion.

I feel empowered every time I craft a response in my own words through this media project. I think that we could organize something similar to Ny's Media Response Project for staff and volunteers to participate in through PWCL. I also think that I heard someone recommend "we could have cake too".

11 comments:

Jenny said...

I am with Ledena (and the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault). I wrote a letter in response to Cosmo's coverage of the issue of "gray rape," and the response that I got back insisted that "gray rape" was a real term coined by sexual assault experts. I wrote the letter on behalf of PWCL (with approval from RPN), and yet there was no mention of the expertise I might have about issues sexual assault survivors might face. Of course, it was a form letter, but I digress.

I for one would really like to see PWCL speak proactively about domestic and sexual violence. We are often called to comment when something heinous happens in our community. (Example: Husband kills his wife by running her over with his car while she's gardening. Jenny, your comment. My response, "It's horrific!" (Wait, was that a rhetorical question). My point is that we never get the opportunity to talk about the roots of violence in a really public way.

I'll bring the cake.

Rebecca said...

I love this idea -- maybe a monthly gathering where we all write letters in response to the same thing to facilitate even more impact. Once a political group I was participating in hand-wrote letters to our state legistlatures together, and we immediately got results.

How about asking In Other Words for space so we can encourage community participation? A great way to give them support while getting more folks excited about PWCL.

Okay, now is the part where someone volunteers to put it together. I'm gonna hold my breath for 30 seconds and then volunteer myself...

Ledena said...

I'll volunteer! I was thinking that we could ask In Other Words, or check in with a number of coffee shops around town. For example, the waypost is a really cozy place in my neighborhood...yeah!

Kelsey said...

Count me in!

Linda said...

me too! i'd be all over this kind of thing :)

Ledena said...

Jenny and I were having a conversation on Friday about some recent news coverage regarding DV Awareness Month. She mentioned an ABC special about DV, and a local Channel 8 segment (right after high school sports updates). Possible candidates to respond to???....

Linda said...

i think those are great ideas - particularly the local news coverage. for one, all of our letters could give the crisis line number b/c it is so often left out of coverage as a resource to call.

are we going to get a regular meeting scheduled to do this? And who will be responsible for monitoring news coverage. this is when I wish PWCL had an Oregonian subscription.

Kelsey said...

I went to the Men Against Rape meeting today and brought this up and they said they'd be into getting together with some folks to write letters as representatives of MAR, and us as reps for PWCL. I think double duty would be a great idea.

When we get a time and place figured out let me know!

Ledena said...

So it sounds like we have some details to work out as far as organizing this and getting it started. If MAR is involved I am wondering if we could use the WRC at PSU. We could always rotate the space. Also, do we want to do this once a month? Can we get a subscription to the Oregonian? Should we have an in person meeting about designating point people to organize this? I'm certainly willing to find a space that people can agree on. I think that we should choose a date, bring an initial piece of media to respond to. Do you all think that we should develop some ground rules that we will follow around this kind of a project? So many questions...

Jenny said...

I'm worried that at this point the "DV round-up" story about police arresting DV offenders might be kind of dated. I think the the trick with these kind of responses is that they have to be really timely. So, it's kind of all the members of the group's responsibility to keep their eyes peeled for these stories, and then put the word out to respond the next day if it's for a story reported in the daily news.

The other thing to think about it is the possibility to just raising visibility about a certain issues (say, lack of resources). So, that would be more of a press release. I have to admit, I don't have a lot of experience in this area. Maybe Linda or one of members of Team PR from SIN can jump in?

Kelsey said...

Okay, two weeks later. Do we want to set up a date/time for a little letter to the editor group?