Confusing Sex and Rape

The New York Times addresses a topic that feminists have been trying to illuminate for years – the use by journalists of the word ‘sex’ in descriptions of non-consensual criminal acts that more properly should be called “rape” instead, and the importance of correcting that error for our common understanding of what constitutes a crime involving rape.

Some readers, responding to The New York Times’s first reports on the case, strongly objected to wording in the articles that, in their view, either underplayed the details or wrongly applied the language of consensual sex to the narrative.

The objections focused on the most severe of the accusations against Mr. Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach. According to the grand jury report, he subjected a boy estimated to be 10 years old to “anal intercourse” in locker room showers at the university in 2002.
Jennifer Crichton, a reader from Manhattan, said The Times’s initial article on Nov. 5 missed the mark when it described the testimony of a Penn State graduate assistant about the incident. As The Times put it, he told the grand jury that he saw Mr. Sandusky “sexually assaulting a boy in the shower.”

“Why is this described as ‘sexual assault’ and not as ‘rape’ “? Ms. Crichton wrote.

The importance of course is that sex is a consensual act between two persons who have given informed consent. “When the facts warrant it, journalists should be as specific as possible, they should avoid using the language of consensual sex and, when appropriate, they should call a rape a rape.”

Continue ReadingConfusing Sex and Rape

Local News and Online Reporting

WTHR has this story on their website:

Study: Omega 3 can save lives
Experts say beefing up intake of Omega 3 fatty acids can save lives more than AED’s and implanted defibrillators. Omega 3 is found in foods like fish and nuts, and some experts believe they can lower the risk for heart attack because of their ability to reduce inflammation.
By using a computer simulation, experts measured how well AED’s, implanted heart defibrillators and Omega 3 nutrients prevented sudden death. They found raising the levels of Omega 3 fatty acids in people’s diets would prevent sudden death eight times more than widely distributing AED’s, and two times more than implanted defibrillators.

That’s fascinating, and I immediately wanted to know more. But you know what? I can’t find out any more than that from the WTHR, because the above is all the web page shows. The story is okay if they’re just reading it on the evening news (although they really should be identifying who the “experts” in the story are) but it’s not fine online, where they have plenty of space to round out the story with more information. They SHOULD link off to the study in question at the very least. Presumably they got the information somewhere. Tell us where it came from. I guess it’s a short trip to google to figure out more detail, but I shouldn’t have to do that.
I remember journalism classes from college where we had to take the same story and write it in 10 different ways – one to be broadcast on the news, one to be a front-page newspaper story, one to be a featured article in a magazine, etc. There were standard elements that had to appear in each format, and the stories had to be “trimmed” in different ways to fit the alloted column inches of space. I get the impression that journalists don’t do that anymore.

Continue ReadingLocal News and Online Reporting

Indianapolis Star News Coverage

So I’m persuing the Indy Star website, because I just can’t bring myself to actually subscribe to the paper, and I ran across this little gem of an article. It’s about coffee mugs. The author of the article is comparison shopping coffee mugs. Indianapolis is an urban city of over a million people. We have a larger population than San Francisco. Check out their paper sometime. The Indy Star is lame. Lame, lame lame. Shut up about the mugs, dude. Just shut up. Jesus.

Continue ReadingIndianapolis Star News Coverage