(Editor’s note: Not all staff members agreed with the decision. Here is one dissenting view.)
I dissent from the majority of the staff and agree with several readers that the use of explicit language in the news article about the tragic incident that allegedly occurred to one of our own was unnecessary. While I do not feel the decision was unethical, I do feel it was in poor taste and contrary to the standards that newspapers traditionally follow.
It’s true that most major and reputable U.S. newspapers avoid printing the kind of language that The Notherner included.
While I appreciate the ability and role of college newspapers and media outlets to challenge the traditional notions of what is politically correct, decent or acceptable to put to print, I feel that including explicit language used against a sexual assault victim is not a challenge of which I want to be a part.
I am not convinced that the inclusion of the explicit language that was allegedly hurled at a fellow NKU student amidst a tragic crime was included for anything more than shock value. And it had that shock value. While I feel the newspaper should ensure that students are aware of the severity and heinous nature of this reported attack, and indeed shocked by it, I do not feel that what was shocking about the incident was that the alleged attackers’ hurled expletives at the victim.
What was shocking was that a student reported being abducted at dusk right near several campus buildings and then sexually assaulted by two individuals. That fact, coupled with generalizations about the victim being told she was going to be raped and being humiliated (as opposed to more specific quotes that were included in the news article) would have been sufficient to inform the readers of the severity and heinous nature of the reported crime. The actual inclusion of the profanity needs to be compelling, according to The Associated Press Stylebook, 2004 edition, and in the case I find the inclusion did not serve any compelling purpose in helping the readers understand the situation. Therefore, it should have been excluded.
That being said, I join the entire staff in supporting the actual reporting in The Northerner of rapes and crimes that occur on campus. And I vouch for the individual members of the staff as individuals who do have a heart for the victims of heinous crimes like the one alleged here, and who do take their responsibilities as journalists very seriously. Sometimes, though, as we all know, the decisions we make are not the best ones.