The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) has produced a new analysis of prostitution coverage in the Grand Rapids Press. GRIID’s analysis examines two recent press stories, “Violent Pimp Gets Long Look from Cops” and “Mom Seeks Hope in Hooker Death Probe,” published on June 8th and June 9th, respectively. Beginning with the two headlines, GRIID details a number of deficiencies and biases in the two stories, including the Press’s use of the term “violent” to modify the term “pimp” when the entire system of prostitution is founded on violence towards women who are being exploited. While the two articles focus on the actions of a man who is a former pimp, the articles use the term pimp only five times whereas the term prostitute is used a total of 18 times, effectively altering people’s perception of a crime that was committed against women and creating the impression that they were committed by people who have a status less than women and more as property. Such a view is further conveyed in the articles when the Press describes the killing of the two women as “a fate that befell some victims,” rather than recognizing that they were victims of systemic violence. GRIID also observes that the two articles were written from a law enforcement perspective rather than a public health perspective and consequently fails to take into account the complexities of sex trafficking.
For more information on prostitution in Grand Rapids and addressing the issue from a public health perspective, the Prostitution Round Table compiled a report in 2002 titled “We Can Do Better: Helping Prostituted Women and Girls in Grand Rapids Make Healthy Choices.”