Yukon media should be more aware of its language choices

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I have been extremely disappointed in Yukon media for its language throughout the Brandy Vittrekwa manslaughter case.

Reporters have continuously published some of the intimate, violent details of Brandy’s death. By publishing the graphic details of this crime, you are contributing to the re-traumatization of those who are most closely involved – both to the victim and to the youth convicted of the crime.

This type of language caters to the sensationalism of the story and can be harmful to the families and to our community. I firmly believe that reporters can publish relevant facts of a crime without using the loaded language and details we have been confronted with throughout this trial and that it is their duty to do so.

Moreover, in a CBC article published on June 16, the reporter felt it necessary to include a quote from the judge that indicated “Brandy was the drunker of the two.” Again, I was disappointed that this irrelevant detail was included not only in the judge’s statements but also propagated in the media. This unnecessary detail implies that the victim was somehow complicit in the crimes committed against her.

Reporters have an enormous responsibility of shaping public opinion on current events, but details like this do not further the story and are not in the public’s best interest. As such, I strongly urge the media to closely examine the language that it is using and the problematic ideas it is perpetuating when reporting on violence against women, especially young women, and to consider its responsibility towards all those affected by this crime (and any crime it reports on in the future.)

Shelby Maunder

Whitehorse

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