Columnist Joan Ryan notes in the San Francisco Chronicle that the rape case against basketball star Kobe Bryant has reignited debate in journalism circles about the long-standing policy of not naming rape victims.
She writes, “Some ask if we believe rape victims shouldn’t feel any more shame or guilt than other crime victims, aren’t we reinforcing and prolonging the stigma of rape by treating it differently from other crimes?
“There is also the ‘unfiltered’ journalism argument. The job of the media is to report the news as accurately and completely as possible. We are reporters, not social workers or therapists. ‘Openness serves society as a whole,’ one former editor wrote recently, arguing in favor of naming victims. ‘It serves enlightenment and understanding and progress.’
“The arguments are reasonable. But they couldn’t be more wrong.”