Best practice guidance for journalists

NZPC welcomes enquiries from the media. If you are a journalist with any question, big or small, please contact us and we will be able to help. 


We know that stigma is a contributor to violence and that sometimes stigma is reinforced by media. This Best Practice guide is a community project, born out of frustration with how sex workers have historically been represented and reported on in the media. 


We brought sex workers together from across Aotearoa to create this resource. It will be especially useful for those who are not familiar with our community, those new to journalism, or those new to the decriminalised context of NZ where sex work can be more out in the open.


Scroll down for a glossary of terms and guidance regarding safety, informed consent, language and who/how to approach. The complete resource with glossary and ideal email approach can be found here 

*Watch this space in 2024 for a (free) Stock Image Bank , with images representing the sex work community curated by our community.



Being ’out’ can negatively impact housing, education, other employment, healthcare, interpersonal relationships, care of children and family court matters, and risk harassment amongst other things. Respecting all privacy and anonymity requirements is essential. Public knowledge of certain sexual services offered, income details or safety techniques can put SWers at greater risk of online harassment and physical violence.

Unless you have explicit permission, do not publish:

  • Identifying details about them (such as sexuality, ethnicity, religion, immigration status - unless relevant and consented)
  • Where they work
  • Where they live (including clues in B-roll e.g of them walking down their street)

Do not report on details of:

  • Client screening techniques
  • Safety precautions
  • Income information
  • Sexual services offered



Sex workers can be put at risk if they inadvertently disclose personal details during an interview, and our whole community can be harmed when someone speaks over or on behalf of someone with lived experience. Full disclosure, time to prep, and opportunity for review are best practice when seeking comment from our community.


  • Full disclosure about the purpose and angle of the article
  • Ensure the request is directed to someone with lived/relevant experience
  • Provide questions/topics ahead of time


Inform if/what aftercare practices are in place:


  • Allow proofing (for risk factors, language, voice)
  • Allowing proofing of headline, images, social media snippets 
  • Comments section to be well-moderated or switched off 
  • Check in and follow up with the SWer




Language is powerful, and can either uphold the mana of our community or further marginalise us. Spend time to understand appropriate language when speaking about sex workers.


*See GLOSSARY below


Refrain from using:

  • Stigmatising language
  • Victimising language (unless appropriate such as when SW in question is victim of an assault etc.)
  • Dehumanising language (e.g. using analogies)
  • Slang
  • Words that we have reclaimed but which are considered derogatory from outsiders.
  • Language that upholds the whorearchy



Nothing about us without us


Sex work is a term used for a variety of occupations with a shared objective of sexual gratification; it is important to speak to someone with relevant work experience. This of course goes without saying when it comes to other aspects of identity - for example don’t speak to a cis worker about trans issues, don’t speak to a Pākehā worker about experiences of racism in the workplace and don’t speak to a sugarbaby about management practices.


*see GLOSSARY below


  • Most sex workers prefer formal email approach 
  • Cold-calling from an advertisement is generally not welcome
  • Be clear if non-sex worker voices/other perspectives are going to be included
  • Identify if there is koha/financial compensation/gift link available for participation



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