Tuesday, February 5, 2008

How Much Information Do You Publish?

A TEMPLE UNIVERSITY STUDENT now stands accused of raping two female students over the weekend of January 27.

Police arrested and formally charged the 21-year old suspect. Temple University has since suspended him.

As a journalist, do you have an obligation to the community to publish the name and image of the suspect?

Or do you have an obligation to the suspect, to not further damage his life unless he is proven guilty in a court of law?

22 comments:

Jason said...

I think that if he is in police custody, his image and name should not be printed. It's not like he's a known fugitive on the loose and people need to know what he looks like. If he's guilty, then you can print his name and picture at that time. For now, he should probably remain somewhat anonymous.

Geo said...

He's not in police custody, that I know of. He was charged and then released on bail, I believe.

Change anything?

- George (the teacher)

Ariela Rose said...

I think the fact that he is out on bail and potentially still dangerous is reason enough to publish his name. If he has already been accused of raping two female students then who says he's not going to do it again? People need to be warned and aware.

Andy said...

This guy was not convicted of a crime. He is not a criminal, yet. Would you want your picture in the paper if you were accused and arrested for a crime you did not commit? If he goes to trial and is convicted, sure, let everyone know who he is.

maress said...

As a journalist, potential defamation towards an innocent victim is the issue.

Once the image and name of the suspect is released the community will often convict the "perp" in some sense of the word.

While journalists are not responsible for controlling the thoughts, feelings and reactions of the community, they are responsible for informing them.

The public will do what they will with "public" information; that sometimes brings unfortunate consequences, but should not be a journalistic concern.

Also, releasing the suspect's name and image might bring eye witnesses or previous victims forward to help solve the case.

PUBLISH

Nick Vadala said...

Absolutely publish his name. As a journalist, I feel that having his name published is a moral and professional obligation.

Shauna said...

In the town where I grew up people's names and pictures were printed for every offense even minor ones, many for DUI's. For this type of offense, I think it is wrong to print the names and photographs of the offenders and ruin their images in their communities. Especially since it is just a charge and nothing is proven until court. For a violent offense, however, i think that newspapers have every right to print names and photographs. Especially if the offenders are not incarcerated. People have a right to know who has been accused of a violent crime, even if they may turn out to be innocent. It is the duty of the newspaper to print these stories with names and images to inform us all of what is going on and the potential dangers that are surrounding us.

Obie said...

Same kind of argument as the Duke scandal, Kobe Bryant, etc..

Not to say these women are lying, but as in these previous cases, the names of these men were severely damaged by what proved to be unfounded charges..

The suspect is probably in close contact with the authorities, even if he is free, so let them handle his innocence or guilt, not public opinion.

Silk said...

Last time I checked, "innocent until proven guilty" still stands. If journalists were to publish this person's name and photo before he is convicted then it would tarnish his reputation. People would forever remember him as "the guy that was accused of rape" regardless of if he was guilty or not.

Jeff Frandsen said...

We talked about this in class with the 2 men in Seattle. His image is tarnished REGARDLESS of him being guilty or not. End of story. It is not right for the press to release names or images of people unless they are PROVEN guilty.

Jaclyn said...

My first reaction was to definately inform the public of the suspect's name. By releasing such information could prevent other possible cases and/or help put the pieces of the puzzle together to solve the situation.

After reading other comments though, I understand the argument on keeping it confidential. But, taking place on a college campus so large I find it important for the students to feel as safe as possible especially with Temple's campus being accessable to everyone. Who wants the stranger next to them being held confidential after commiting such disturbing acts towards other innocent people? Not me.

Ashlee Kane said...

Look at the Duke Lacrosse Team Case, that should teach us all something. They had their names dragged through the mud and they're found innocent. Until someone can be proven guilty society shouldnt have the oppurtunity to pass judgement and defame someones character.

mangosass16 said...

I think people have the right to know. The fact that his face is in the paper isn't great for him if he's innocent but if he is found guilty then women know who to look out for.

Kevin Cook said...

I can understand both sides of this debate, but I still believe you need to publish his name and print his image. Unfortunately in today's society people are considered guilty even before they are formally convicted, but as a Temple student I want to know who this man is. In fact I had no idea of this story until we spoke about it in class the other day.

an-chan said...

It's hard to make a choice on this one but in cases where there is potential of the community's welfare being endangered, the privacy of one person matters little.

Andy said...

Saying "unfortunately in today's society" is simply an excuse. It's probably because I'm a libertarian "nutjob", but giving up civil liberties in exchange for safety is not cool. Think of yourself in the situation, this guy's life is going to be ruined, regardless of whether or not he is guilty.

Brett Strycharz said...

It would be ideal, for safety's sake, that the media should be able to notate that a male was taken into police custody around the time of the incident and disclose his name/image.

However, the media has an obligation to not defame an individual if they are not proven in a court of law to have committed a crime.

Authoritative bodies know who this suspect is and would rightly take action if he was found in a suspicious situation.

Ultimately, we must respect the names of those not yet found guilty in court. While there may be close to nil chance that the suspect is innocent, we cannot risk damaging an individual's life under false pretenses.

Lee said...

As a woman and a stundent at Temple leaving within blocks of him I can't help but thinking I want to know who this guy is and what he looks like becuase honestly, it's scary! But from a journalistic perspective i feel they can report his name. It is a journalists job to report the facts and the fact is he is being charged with this crime and is not yet conviected. If people treat him unjustly that isn't the journalists fault, and if they do feel resposible if he is acquitted they can report on that.

Melissa Randall said...

I think that until he's guilty, and as long as he doesn't pose a threat to the community he should be kept anonymous. I think more than that, these girls should be kept anonymous....I think out of anyone, their lives are probably extremely difficult right now and the last thing they need is stress from the media.

Melissa Randall said...

I think that until he's guilty, and as long as he doesn't pose a threat to the community he should be kept anonymous. I think more than that, these girls should be kept anonymous....I think out of anyone, their lives are probably extremely difficult right now and the last thing they need is stress from the media.

Geo said...

Journalism standards say that you never reveal the name of a rape victim. If the allegations prove to be false in the end, sometimes journalists will do follow up stories about the motive of the accuser.

Traditionally, the media have run with suspects' names and images. Is that fair?

As to determining whether someone poses a threat to a community, well that is a tough one. If we knew who the threats to or community were, we could send them all to Jersey and keep Philadelphia safe.

That's a joke, but the reality is, you can never tell who the threats are.

- George (the teacher)

David hall said...

Whether they are guilty or not i dont think you should ever print the name and information of a rapist. I know thats probably a weird statememnt. I just dont think that it reall has any relavance to the news at all. So what we know hes a rapist do we now run away everytime we see him. Whats the purpose of that