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Markiewitz, Antonia; Arendt, Florian; Scherr, Sebastian (2020): Increasing Adherence to Media Guidelines on Responsible Reporting on Suicide: Suggestions from Qualitative Interviews with German Journalists. In: Journalism Studies, Vol. 21, No. 4: pp. 494-511
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Abstract

Responsible reporting on suicide (RRS) is a cornerstone of suicide prevention. Scholars have developed media guidelines facilitating RRS, but there are barriers to accepting and implementing these suggestions, alongside obstacles for journalists’ comprehensive adherence to them. For example, journalists could perceive media guidelines as a threat to their autonomy or to the freedom of the press. However, there is scant evidence on how journalists actually evaluate RRS media guidelines, leaving it unclear as to how journalists perceive them and how willing they are to adhere to them. The present study addresses this research gap and explores potential barriers to guideline adherence using 30 qualitative, semi-structured interviews with journalists in Germany. Journalists expected that their freedom of speech would remain untouched, which mostly referred to the non-restrictive tone of the guidelines, to persuasive, evidence-based explanations, and to clear reporting examples. Practical implications for increasing journalists’ adherence to media guidelines are discussed.