Editor Questions Withholding Duke Lacrosse Accuser Name


Many major news media organizations continue to grant anonymity to the accuser in the now-dropped Duke lacrosse case, while newspapers in North Carolina, the New York Daily News and many Web sites have published not only her name but also a photograph, notes Washington Post editorial writer Jo-Ann Armao. A former news editor, Armao argues for disclosing the name. She says, “The identity of people at the center of the news should be withheld only under the most dire of circumstances and for sound reason. Otherwise, we start down a slippery slope.”

Armao says the Raleigh News & Observer [whose account was summarized in Crime & Justice News] decided to name the Duke accuser after consulting lawyers, a judge, and advocates for victims of sexual assault. News organizations that withheld the name simply fell back on long-standing policies of not naming people who say they are victims of sexual abuse. The problem is, as N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper made clear, no sexual assault occurred. Continuing to withhold the woman’s name perpetuates a suggestion that she is a victim, in need of shielding and protecting. Armao says “there is a certain hypocrisy in newspaper accounts that delicately cloak this woman in anonymity but then characterize her with the worst of adjectives.”

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/13/AR2007041301873.html

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