Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Opinion: Alleged sex crime details disturbing UPDATE: Reporter aplogizes

Publishing sex crime information is a delicate balancing act. While arrests are public information, the details aren't always in anyone's best interest. Today, a respected news outlet in northwest Pennsylvania reported a rape arrest. But they did more than report the arrest, they provided a step-by-step description of the assault, including her struggle. "Court papers" were cited. The only thing this outlet didn't do was provide the victims name. What they did forget was to use the word alleged. An arrest is an accusation, nothing more. Until a jury or judge says you are guilty, you are innocent. It's how our system works, thankfully. However, this news outlet saved taxpayers a ton of money and time. They flat out said...this is what the man did. In many cases, as RNN understands, the title of the charge alone can paint a disturbing picture. Listing charges is fair. Providing a moment by moment account is best left for prosecutors during a trial.
I'm trying to image what the (alleged) victim is thinking when she reads the story. It may very well be why many don't report attacks...the fear that a moment-by-moment commentary is just a click away. Some may not agree with this opinion piece and that's okay. This too, is what makes America great.
UPDATE 4/13/16: Anne Holliday has left a new comment on your post "Opinion: Alleged sex crime details disturbing":
I agree with you, too, and I've changed it. If I knew who the victim was, I would apologize to her. News people are human and make mistakes. I've never done that with another rape and don't know why I did it yesterday. I'm glad so many people called me out on that ... it means you're paying attention and care about what I report on.