Petersburg Pilot -

 
 

EDITORIAL: The decision to publish

 


This newspaper’s decision to publish the name of a rape victim in its report in the March 6 edition was influenced by many factors.

While many publications have a policy not to publish the name of a victim of rape, we are aware of many circumstances where the name is made public by other media, by the victim, by discussions on social networks and through the victim’s circle of friends.

Often, the prosecution of the case hinges on the ability of the district attorney to ask the victim to testify at a public trial.

Many of these events contributed to our decision.

In this particular case the victim’s mother is employed by the newspaper and has been for more than 7 years. Much of the case from the night of the assault through conviction was the topic of discussion in our office.

The victim clearly had a strong support system in place that came from siblings, parents and friends. Each was determined to take the case to court.

The ongoing open discussion of the case gave us confidence that the publication of the name was not going to be at issue in this particular case. The family of the victim wanted to take the case to trail and was aware the case would bring publicity.

We respect the opinion of those who disagree with us, but in this case we stand by our decision.

New cases will bring differing circumstances that could cause us not to make the name public. Editors continue to grapple with this sensitive issue as the dissemination of news becomes more oblique and less controlled by traditional players and the question of how public is public continues to be debated.

 

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