New York Times 'outed' Sandusky rape victim

Thomas Lifson

The New York Times is drawing flak in media circles over its transgressing a canon of journalistic ethics by identifying one of the alleged rape victims of Jerry Sandusky, not by name, but by supplying so much detail that anyone who cared to could identify the individual using the internet.

Dylan Stableford of Yahoo News writes:

The Patriot-News, the newspaper that broke the story of the child sex-abuse case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, has been careful not to reveal the names of the alleged victims in its reporting.

But David Newhouse, editor of the Patriot-News, is livid that the New York Times revealed too much information about one of the alleged victims in a story last week.

Newhouse says that a Times' piece ("For a Reported Penn State Victim, a Search for Trust") written by Nare Schweber and Jo Becker published Wednesday is "so detailed," a simple Google search of its contents "results in the young man's name within seconds."

Newhouse's specific charge:

The story quotes his next-door neighbor and names his neighborhood. It describes the detailed circumstances of a car accident which was reported in local papers at the time. It says he liked to wear tie-dyed socks. None of these details have anything to do with why or how the boy was allegedly befriended and then assaulted over several years by Sandusky. They only serve to make the boy easily identifiable.

You could call the anonymity maintained in the story a polite fiction, but there is nothing polite about it.

 Protecting the identify of a rape/sexual assault victim is considered sacrosanct among journalists. Rarely if ever are names divulged -- or identifies revealed, in so many words, as The Times has done.

The Times is taking criticism from one of its own. Newhouse is a member in good standing of the journalistic fraternity, an editor of a substantial daily, criticizing what was formerly regarded as the standard-setter. Editor & Publisher, the trade magazine of the business, has picked up the case. The Times' Public Editor probably will have to deal with this on Sunday.

Lateyly, the Times has had some controversy over coverage of another rape. James McKinley's coverage of a rape case that seemed to blame the victim and led to a public editor critique.

McKinley is the genius who wrote that the motives of Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Hasan were "unclear," though he was shouting "Allahu akbar!" during his attack.

The Times is now under the supervision of executive editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to occupy this post. She's not off to a good start.

David Paulin, a veteran newsman, contributed substantially to this piece, and I thank him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Times is drawing flak in media circles over its transgressing a canon of journalistic ethics by identifying one of the alleged rape victims of Jerry Sandusky, not by name, but by supplying so much detail that anyone who cared to could identify the individual using the internet.

Dylan Stableford of Yahoo News writes:

The Patriot-News, the newspaper that broke the story of the child sex-abuse case against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, has been careful not to reveal the names of the alleged victims in its reporting.

But David Newhouse, editor of the Patriot-News, is livid that the New York Times revealed too much information about one of the alleged victims in a story last week.

Newhouse says that a Times' piece ("For a Reported Penn State Victim, a Search for Trust") written by Nare Schweber and Jo Becker published Wednesday is "so detailed," a simple Google search of its contents "results in the young man's name within seconds."

Newhouse's specific charge:

The story quotes his next-door neighbor and names his neighborhood. It describes the detailed circumstances of a car accident which was reported in local papers at the time. It says he liked to wear tie-dyed socks. None of these details have anything to do with why or how the boy was allegedly befriended and then assaulted over several years by Sandusky. They only serve to make the boy easily identifiable.

You could call the anonymity maintained in the story a polite fiction, but there is nothing polite about it.

 Protecting the identify of a rape/sexual assault victim is considered sacrosanct among journalists. Rarely if ever are names divulged -- or identifies revealed, in so many words, as The Times has done.

The Times is taking criticism from one of its own. Newhouse is a member in good standing of the journalistic fraternity, an editor of a substantial daily, criticizing what was formerly regarded as the standard-setter. Editor & Publisher, the trade magazine of the business, has picked up the case. The Times' Public Editor probably will have to deal with this on Sunday.

Lateyly, the Times has had some controversy over coverage of another rape. James McKinley's coverage of a rape case that seemed to blame the victim and led to a public editor critique.

McKinley is the genius who wrote that the motives of Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Hasan were "unclear," though he was shouting "Allahu akbar!" during his attack.

The Times is now under the supervision of executive editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to occupy this post. She's not off to a good start.

David Paulin, a veteran newsman, contributed substantially to this piece, and I thank him.