, Gloucester, MA


January 19, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? The named and the unnamed

The front page of Wednesday’s Times this week included a couple of downright chilling stories.

One was about a local nurse who faces multiple charges because, according to police reports, she declined to take a visiting teenager to the hospital after an underage drinking party at the nurse’s West Gloucester home, and instead injected her with a dose of anti-nausea medication she had brought home from her job at a Rockport nursing home.

The other was the story about the 21-year-old city man who is facing statutory rape allegations in the aftermath of a New Years Eve drinking session he allegedly had with teenagers in a room he reportedly rented at a local resort.

Each story was largely drawn from the reports as documented by Gloucester police, though staff writer James Niedzinski, who crafted both reports, especially made additional calls regarding the case involving the charges and criminal complaints filed against the nurse and her husband. The stories obviously named the accused parties in both instances, recognizing that these are charges, and that no one has yet been convicted of anything.

But there were a lot of parties who were referenced and not named as well.

We did not and absolutely would not name or give any indication to the identity of the victim in the rape case; like nearly all other media, we never name any victims of cases involving sexual assault — and would not, unless a person is killed in the commission of such an assault and thus becomes a murder victim. We don’t generally list victims of any crime unless there are extenuating circumstances. That’s not just out of respect for the victims; it can also be a very real case of protecting their safety, lest the same assailant or other perpetrator find out the name and possibly the address of someone who would all too easily then be victimized again.

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