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Charge: Fishwrap of Record virtually outed Sandusky rape victim

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 30, 2011 01:27 PM

Will the New York Times ombudsman respond to this serious charge from a fellow mainstream journalist — or will it be whitewashed away?

David Newhouse, editor of the Patriot-News, has blown the whistle on the Fishwrap of Record’s reckless disclosure of identifying details about one of Penn State accused child predator/rapist Jerry Sandusky’s victims:

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 open statement is here. A damning indictment:

n Wednesday’s story in The New York Times, for example, a profile entitled “For a Reported Penn State Victim, a Search for Trust,” reporters Nate Schweber and Jo Becker write a profile so detailed that, even though they do not name him, googling certain information in the profile results in the young man’s name within seconds. The Patriot-News has learned that other news organizations, which did not have the young man’s name, have already done so.

Although the Times story has been all over the web, and of course the Times web site draws a huge amount of traffic on its own, we decline to link to it here.

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 the slightest to do with why or how the boy was allegedly befriended and then assaulted over several years by Sandusky. They do not serve the story of Jerry Sandusky. They only serve to make an alleged victim of sexual assault easily identifiable.

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

To be clear, the Times story is not alone. It is just the latest and most prominent example so far of such reporting.

The pledge of most news organizations to withhold the names of sexual assault victims – men and women, children and adults – is not some journalistic game of who can say the most while following some arbitrary rule. Most media have adopted it because, tragically, reporting sexual assaults still carries a stigma. It is no accident that Victim One was only the second boy to come forward to authorities in what is alleged to have been more than 15 years of assaults by Sandusky. Stories like these, if anything, could discourage future victims from speaking up.

Victim One told the grand jury that he had been victimized by Jerry Sandusky. Now one could argue that he is being victimized again – this time, by frenzied news media who essentially name the victim in the pursuit of salacious details, all done in the name of anonymity.

Via The American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson: “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.”

Over to you,
NYT ombudsman.

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