I was 12 years old and in 7th grade when I decided I wanted to be a journalist. Not simply because I wanted to be ‘on TV’, but because I was fascinated by storytelling, by interviewing, by news, by the men and women who shared it every day, and who gave us the information we needed to know. I watched NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, The Today Show, 20/20…. anything I could.
In our 7th grade classroom, parents constructed a ‘set’, we were broken down into ‘news teams’ – each team with a day to deliver the news and each team member rotating their role in the newscast: news, sports, weather and ‘special’ stories. I was fascinated by it all.
I grew up to be that journalist. I covered politics and crime, military and immigration, school board debates and the havoc of mother nature. I even tackled the really hard stuff – entertainment. Through it all, my goal was always two-fold: to be truthful and to be to be fair and honorable to both sides.
I will spare you the pictures of me with my anchor-bob haircut, but I will tell you this, some of the displays of ‘journalism’ I have seen in the past 24 hours made me alternately want to burst in to tears or throw something at my television for what I am witnessing of what was once a proud profession.
Few stories in the news have turned my stomach like those I have heard surrounding the rape of a 16 year old girl by two teenage football players from Steubenville, Ohio. As if the crime itself wasn’t horrific enough, the attitudes of those involved – both the boys committing the crimes, taking pictures of the young girl and sharing them via social media, but the number of people who KNEW, SAW IT HAPPENING, HEARD ABOUT IT, or SAW THE PICTURES and yet did nothing is, in itself, beyond baffling. What is happening to teenagers that the line between right and wrong is no longer discernible? What is happening in HOMES that we, as parents, are raising children without a CONSCIENCE?
Fast forward to the trial and subsequent guilty verdict. And the media’s reporting of that guilty verdict. My blood begins to boil anew. I can’t remember a time that I have been so thoroughly disgusted by the media in general.
I wish I could say it was only CNN and Fox News… but I can’t. NBC Nightly News made mention of it being a ‘cautionary tale’ for over sharing on the Internet… and I’ve lost count of the number of media outlets who have continued to focus on what Mays and Richmond have ‘lost’ as compared to what has been forever lost to the young victim.
Additionally, tonight, the latest reports – also disturbing, two more people charged – this time girls, for allegedly harassing the 16 year old victim via Facebook and Twitter. Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine has also said a Grand Jury will convene in mid-April to see if other indictments might be made.
I am not a victim of rape. I am sharing my thoughts because there are women who ARE victims who deserve better than this. I have seen many, many brave women who ARE victims of rape speaking out about the disservice this reporting is doing, not only to this young girl, but to rape victims in general. Do tell me your thoughts. I want to know what you think.