Facilitating journalism

An image of a the back of a reporter wearing a blue rain jacket as she addresses a large TV camera.

Journalists do vital work helping their readers, viewers, or listeners better understand the world around them. From tracking down reputable sources to simplifying complex topics and uncovering stories that others have tried their best to bury, audiences rely on people like you to know what’s going on and what that means for them.

When it comes to topics related to sexuality and human rights, however, even the most experienced journalists can falter. Stories on child sexual abuse prevention, pornography and adult performers, and even LGBTQ equality carry a level of controversy, and with it, a risk of backlash and hostility. In some cases, poorly planned reporting can provide a springboard for those pushing bigoted or pro-abuse agendas.

Are you in the right place?

This page discusses our work to support journalists who cover controversial topics within our scope as a child protection organization focusing on human rights. If you’re working on a story about the Prostasia Foundation, you can find contact information on our Press & Media page.

As a sex-positive child protection organization that has successfully weathered this type of controversy, we know how crucial it is to get things right when educating others about these topics. That’s why we work alongside reporters, producers, and others in the media to create engaging and accurate content about these important but misunderstood areas.

Finding strong sources

Misinformation about controversial topics is everywhere, but we’re here to help you cut through the noise and find reliable information. A great way to do this is by starting with a collection of published research, such as our research library, which covers sexual health, digital freedom, and more. Information about the authors and references of each paper is provided so you can follow threads to dig deeper.

If you’re looking to interview an expert or primary source, we can help with that too! Thanks to our Advisory Council – a diverse group of experts and stakeholder representatives across fields like mental health, sex work, trust and safety, and more – we’re able to ensure every inquiry finds its way to someone who has the knowledge and experience to provide a comprehensive answer. You can reach out using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Avoiding agenda-pushers

Unfortunately, not every source is always with it seems, and it’s not uncommon for agenda-pushers, such as certain religious groups, to present themselves as anti-abuse and trafficking organizations, often at the expense of children and marginalized groups. If you suspect that a group is trying to use your platform to promote an unrelated or harmful agenda, we can help you identify their impact in our field and determine reputability.

Quick tip

If you’re planning to talk about a specific group, try to interview at least one member of that group. In some cases, there can be a surprising disconnect in views between advocacy organizations and the people they claim to represent.

For the most controversial topics, even seemingly reputable sources aren’t always safe. Some agenda-pushers go so far as to publish their own pseudoscientific studies in poorly edited scientific journals. If you have suspicions, look into the history and leadership of the organizations you’re talking to, and take note of any ties to potential ulterior motives.

Keeping it real (accurate)

Ensuring accurate reporting is a great way to keep people with ulterior motives at bay and to set yourself up to respond to any controversy. Reliable sources give you a strong foundation, but it’s easy to fall into common pitfalls when writing about these topics, especially if you’re doing so for the first time. Our resources can help!

For example, if you’re planning to talk about child sexual abuse, our 2021 open letter to the Editor’s Code of Practice Committee about how journalists often unwittingly spread misinformation about the causes of abuse simply by using commonly accepted terminology.

Other common mistakes to watch out for include:

  • assuming all members of a group hold similar views
  • not allowing sources to control how their stories are told
  • failing to account for the privacy concerns of marginalized groups
  • taking widespread assumptions and beliefs for granted
  • under-researching the political interests surrounding a topic

When discussing sensitive topics with members of marginalized groups, building trust can go a long way in helping you get complete and accurate information. Be upfront about the angle you’re planning to take and what other viewpoints you want to include, and try to accommodate any privacy concerns expressed by your sources. Before you publish, you may want to give expert sources an opportunity to read your draft so they can identify any inaccurate or misleading information.

Protecting yourself

Finally, and most importantly, take precautions to ensure your own safety. Extremists who seek to censor discussion of these topics are not above targeting journalists who express certain views with harassment or even doxxing attacks. Our Anti-Harassment Resource Guide contains safety tips for people who discuss controversial topics related to child protection. If you find yourself being targeted, Access Now offers a Digital Security Helpline for journalists and others who are commonly victimized by online attacks.

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