One of the aspects of Jessie’s case that supporters can make the biggest difference is sharing her side of the story and fighting back against tabloid journalism exploiting Jessie’s experience.
When Jessica Burlew was arrested, local and nationwide media quickly seized on the most sensational aspects of Jessie’s case for clickbait. Flashy headlines such as “Goth teen kills boyfriend” convicted Jessie in the court of public opinion before any real research was done on this case. Supporters have been reminding the journalists that cover this case that Jessie is the child victim of a sexual predator and that she has serious mental health needs and was failed by the Arizona Department of Child Services.
Some of Jessie’s supporters have had success writing to the editors of some of these news stories and convincing them to change the language they used, even retroactively.
Most only sent a few sentences to the editors and reporters, asking them to take Jessie’s young age and vulnerability into account and discontinue the use of terms like “boyfriend.” Many of the older stories from the time of her arrest have been updated to reflect more responsible journalism.
Do an internet search for Jessie Burlew’s name. Read through the stories that come up first and email the reporters and editors if they referred to Jason Ash as Jessie’s “boyfriend” or failed to reference the sexual exploitation of a minor. Remind them that Jessica Burlew is the survivor of sexual abuse.
This is an important campaign that all of Jessie’s supporters can contribute to, no matter where they live. Write editorials, comment on local articles, share the real version of Jessica Burlew’s story! The more times the support website is shared, the higher it rises in search engine results, making sure that anyone researching Jessie is getting the full story.
Do you know any responsible reporters? Send them the press kit. Every story that is written to include Jessie’s experience and the traumatic conditions of her confinement puts more pressure on the Maricopa County Attorney’s office to do the right thing. Jessie’s support team has also put together a quick letter for journalists, as attached below.