Take Back the News

A positive example

Posted by Anna on July 16, 2007

Here’s a positive example of how newspapers can – and should – not question the veracity of what happened to the person who was sexually assaulted, but at the same time not assume the guilt of the perpetrator.

If only more journalists did the same.

A 54-year-old car salesman is to appear in court today on charges relating to the abduction and sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in West Auckland two weeks ago.

So the article assumes the events have happened, but states that the man has been charged with them, not that he did them.

The girl was walking along West Coast Rd in Glen Eden on her way to visit a friend when she was lured into a car.

She was sexually and physically abused during her 45-minute ordeal in West Auckland.

So there is no use of the word allegedly here, that these events happened is not questioned.

The man had allegedly asked the teenager for directions, then insisted she get into his car to show him the way.

Here the word allegedly is used, and whilst it’s not the ideal phrasing it is only done here because it is describing his involvement in what happened, rather than just what happened.

The man will appear in the Rotorua District Court to face charges of abduction, sexual violation, and assault with intent to commit sexual violation of a girl aged between 12 and 16 years.

A straightforward statement of fact, with no judgement implied on either his guilt or her truthfulness/reliability.

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