Compounding the Tragedy: Reflections on Media Coverage


This past week in Hamilton Jenna Gazzola and Aerlaena Smith were murdered. Jenna by a male neighbour and Aerlaena by her boyfriend.

You might have heard about it on the news or in the paper. Maybe not. Despite it being glaring absent in reporting: this IS about gender based violence.

The media stories seem shrouded in confusion and shock about the violence. It seems almost too much for them to name that Aerlaena was murdered by her boyfriend, for example.

Maybe you felt frustrated too, or confused or angry, anxious, sad– and not just about the tragedy of the murders themselves but also about how off-base the reporting on these situations has been.

That makes sense. The media consistently does a pretty terrible job of talking about  patriarchy, power, and gender-specific violence.

Your feeling and reactions are also valid because the very real violence that is all around us every day is something women often have to minimize to get on with our daily lives. But hearing about the murders makes it come into focus.

And that can be a part of why the media coverage can feel really confusing and disappointing. We can’t encourage journalists, editors, and producers enough to read Femifesto’s guide to reporting on sexual violence.

Your reactions and feelings and thoughts on this are valid.


Image from dearollie

May this post be a little slice of validation. Maybe a bit of fresh air in a stifling atmosphere of powerful media messages.

If you want to talk to someone about Jenna and Aerlaena’s murders SACHA’s 24 Hour Support Line is here – 905.525.4162.



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