July 28, 2003

Naming Names III

The debate over to name or not to name Kobe Bryant's accuser rages on, intensified, like all discourse these days, by the Internet. Media critic Neil Gabler tells Bob Baker in an L.A. Times story:

"The Internet has no editor, so everything gets out there. Then it gets picked up by talk radio, which also has no filtering system. Then that process puts pressure on more traditional news outlets, like local newspapers, to pick up the story because it's out there and people are talking about it. These newspapers are in competitive situations. Once they pick it up, there is pressure on more responsible organizations to [make use of] these rumors, if not publish them as fact."

Also in the L.A. Times, the paper's own media critic David Shaw comes out in favor of naming Bryant's accuser. He writes:

"Surely, the stigma attached to being accused of sexual assault is even worse than the stigma attached to being a victim of sexual assault. So why publish and broadcast his name and not hers? She's not a minor, and since everyone in her hometown knows who she is, just whom are we protecting her reputation from?"

Shaw's position tracks that of Geneva Overholser [ Read: Naming Names ] and I agree. More disclosure is better than less.

That said, I sympathize with anyone who falls under the hoof of the rampaging media pack these days. As Bryan of Media Review said in a comment to Overholser piece:

"I think there are a great number of people who would find the concept of naming names as Overholser wants to practice it would only further alienate the public from journalism. How many rape victims would have to be paraded before us, saying how the media perpetuated the rape by publishing the name?"

He proposes "a more enlightened policy" - asking the victim for permission to use her name.

 Los Angeles Times The Internet Is Reshaping Bryant Story
 David Shaw If the accused is named, the accuser should be too

Posted by Tim Porter at July 28, 2003 08:03 AM