“ProPublica Live: An Examination of Reporting on Rape,” a discussion addressing the intersection of journalism and sexual assault, will be held Thursday, April 28 at the University.
The event will be hosted by ProPublica and the University’s Department of Media Studies and Center for Media and Citizenship.
Panel speakers include Andrea Press, professor of media studies and sociology, and T. Christian Miller, a ProPublica senior reporter. Siva Vaidhyanathan, Robertson professor of media studies, will serve as the moderator.
Miller recently became a Pulitzer Prize winner in honor of his investigation entitled, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” which focused on the sexual assault case of an 18-year-old woman from Seattle. The piece was done in collaboration with Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project. The article, along with the controversial 2014 Rolling Stone article “A Rape On Campus,” inspired the panel.
Miller described the University as being the “very center” of the debate around unethical media coverage of sexual assault.
“All I can offer is what my experiences were in covering the particular story that we did that won the Pulitzer and hope to shed some light on how journalism can be done,” Miller said.
Miller said Rolling Stone’s lack of available material and “confirmation” such as official court and police records was crippling for the article.
“[When] you don’t have any official outside confirmation of anything that occurred, I think it raises the bar that much higher for your efforts to go after and really try and find what the other side of the story is, never ignoring of course the alleged victim’s side of the story,” Miller said.
Rolling Stone focused solely on the victim’s side, but both sides should be “pursued with equal fervor,” Miller said.
Miller said it is imperative to uncover all sides of the story when it comes to reporting on sensitive subjects such as rape. This ethical practice was proven to be abandoned when it came to the Rolling Stone’s now-retracted article.
“You really have to work to get all sides of the story,” Miller said. “The only shield that a journalist has is to do everything possible to get to the truth.”
Miller also said achieving accuracy is especially difficult when reporting sexual assault cases due to social stigmas, amongst other obstacles.
“Sexual assaults makes it much more difficult to cover accurately, so journalists need to have a very high degree of fidelity to the craft of journalism to make sure that story is accurate,” Miller said.
Press hopes the panel will bring awareness to the epidemic of sexual assaults on campuses across the country.
“I hope that people are able to get a sense of how complicated the stories are and how difficult they are to report on and also to litigate in our legal system,” Press said. “And just because they're complicated doesn't mean that … people aren't victimized.”
The panel is scheduled to take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Wilson Hall, Room 301.