With all of the high-profile sexual assault allegations in the news this past month, I decided to see if Margaret Talbot had written anything on rape. Not surprisingly she has, but not in the way I imagined. She published an article in the New Yorker entitled “Reporting on Rape” in 2014. The article discusses a case where there were allegations of a gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity. The original information, published by Rolling Stone, appeared to not be true upon closer investigation. This led Talbot to her own questions–how to we report on rape?
Some of the problems Talbot identifies deal with the responsibilities of reporting and the sensitive nature of sexual assault. In the U of VA case, the journalists failed to get in touch with the accused, saying that the fraternity’s Facebook page was outdated and the accused were hard to reach. Talbot states how it is difficult to talk to sources that may contradict a person who is vulnerable, whom you empathize with and trust. However, that is a crucial part of journalism–making sure that you get all the information. However, this concept also contradicts the fact that often the best exposures of wrongdoing start with one whistle-blower. Talbot comes to the conclusion that truth-seeking–digging for the hard facts–should not make a case weak, but stronger.
Interesting perspective into journalism and dealing with sexual assault allegations when you empathize/relate to the victim.