Documenting Violence Against Women: Justice Begins with Truth

Join Steve Edwards, from the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, as he moderates a discussion among journalists, advocates for survivors, and criminal justice leaders, for a discussion about violence against women, its news coverage, and the potential for increased data access to impact the public discussion.

This event is Sold Out!

The media plays a vital role in shaping how society understands and confronts social issues. News organizations, daunted by budget constraints, shrinking staffs and reader interests, strive to cover violence against women in a responsible manner but challenges remain.

VAW ULC Event InviteSexual assault and domestic violence are complicated issues that must be reported on carefully, with attention to fairness and sensitivity. Headlines today hit hard on the impact of gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods despite the fact that domestic violence cases are significantly more frequent. Investigative reporters who attempt to tackle the topic collect brutal photographs, intimate narratives and harrowing tales but often struggle to find outlets for reporting on these difficult news events that dominate Chicago’s calls to 911 for services.

This event is free to the public!

After watching a small number of high profile, ultra-violent domestic violence cases monopolize news coverage in recent years, journalists, law enforcement and judicial leaders recognize the need to assess better ways to tell the full story.

The public benefits from coverage of these sensitive crimes.  Criminal justice agencies collect vital data that can be aggregated to protect privacy and to identify patterns and trends. Taxpayer funded services generate valuable evidence in the data they collect that can be used to inform communities, aid victim advocates, and improve services. We invite you to join our public discussion on the role data access can have on violence against women in our city.

*Business Casual dress code is required: collard shirt and slacks for men, slacks or skirt with blouse or sweater for women.


The Chicago Justice Project, in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network & Rape Victim Advocates, analyzed 12 months of coverage in the Chicago Tribune & Chicago Sun Times regarding Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Using CJP’s Citizen Open Data Access system, the coalition built a searchable database of coverage. Over 2500 volunteer hours contributed to verifying and validating computer codes that enable the analysis of details about related coverage. The resulting CODA media report includes details such as geolocation, type of assault, the race and gender of both the victim and perpetrator.

The report will be completed in May. The media research provides insight into the types of violence in the
reported assaults and offers points to compare to City data on how often these crimes occur in Chicago.
Geospatial analysis presents opportunities to seek variation between crime and coverage frequencies. Finally,
we are looking at the relationship status between the victim and offender in the reporting and how that differs
from how the crimes occur in Chicago.

Event Details

Date & Time: Tuesday, May 28th from 5:30 to 7:30pm

Location: Union League Club of Chicago (Co-sponsor of event)

Moderator: Steve Edwards, Institute of Politics, U of C (Confirmed)


Director of News Affairs, Chicago Police Department (Confirmed)

Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network (Confirmed)

Chief Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County (Invited)

Supervisor of the Sex Crimes Division, Cook County State’s Attorney’s (Confirmed)


Trib Nation Manager, Chicago Tribune (Confirmed)

Editor in Chief, Chicago Sun Times (Confirmed)

Executive Director, Rape Victim Advocates (Confirmed)

Director, Institute for Research on Race & Public Policy, UIC (Confirmed)

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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