Justice affects us all. Justice and justice-related topics immediately invoke a reaction. How can something be evaluated as being just? What makes decisions just or unjust? Who wins and who loses?  

The media often reports on justice and justice-related topics. Justice invokes affectedness and empathy. Justice is experienced by all target groups and permeates daily life. It is a source of public debate.

The ETHOS Media Handbook serves as a guideline for successfully communicating (on) justice and justice-related issues. The basis of the handbook is formed by the insights and findings yielded from the ETHOS project.

The ETHOS framework concept, which was developed based on theoretical and empirical research in six European countries over the course of three years, enables the development of a nuanced and differenciated view on justice. Nancy Fraser’s three-dimensional model of justice – justice as redistribution, representation and recognition – was chosen as a conceptual lens that renders people’s daily experiences graspable and communicatable.

At the same time, this three-dimensional conception of justice enables a critical understanding of how justice is experienced on various levels. These levels can mutually reinforce each other but can equally as likely lead to tensions or conflicts. Nonetheless, they are inextricably linked: while something may be considered just from one perspective, it could be considered unjust from another.

The ETHOS Media Handbook therefore raises a series of critical questions on justice reporting and seeks to provide input that deals with the complexity of the topic, in the form of practical examples, stories and experiences. There is no formula on how to communicate justice correctly: rather, it makes sense to turn to lived experiences and stories that reflect the nuanced manifestations of justice, and to ask:

  • Is it possible to report on justice in a factual manner, or is a value judgement inherent to such reporting?
  • When justice is raised as an issue, should we leave readers with responses? Should we leave open-ended questions? Should we try to leave an emotional impression?
  • Does the format make a difference on the content that is being transmitted? How can justice and justice-related topics be presented in an adequate manner?
  • Should moral judgements and calls be utilized in justice communication, or should they be avoided?
  • What is the role of reporters’ own judgement, values and bias?

You can find the complete handbook, including more questions and practical examples, here.

by Wanda Tiefenbacher
written for the ETHOS Project within D8.6
Find the full publication on the ETHOS website