Naming rape victims

May 19, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

One of the stickiest dilemmas news organizations have is how to handle rape cases.

Rape is a crime that involves extreme invasion of privacy, and many victims of rape do not want their names published. But what happens when the person accused of rape is famous and the case draws a lot of publicity?

That happened in 2003 when Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was accused of rape by a woman in Colorado. Bryant was a highly popular basketball star, and his supporters quickly found out who the woman was and posted her name (and later picture) on a number of web sites. That posed a difficulty for mainstream news organizations that, for the most part, refused to publish her name.

If you would like to read more about how the news media handled this situation, the Poynter Institute has a section on the whole topic on its web site.

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