Cleveland Gang-Rape Story: Times's Ombudsman Says It Was Flawed

Categories: Crime, Whatever

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In-house criticism over the East Texas gang-rape coverage
The New York Times's ombudsman has joined the chorus criticizing the paper's coverage of the Cleveland gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl.

Arthur S. Brisbane noted that many people thought the story leaned towards blaming the victim and being sympathetic to the alleged perpetrators.

"My assessment is that the outrage is understandable," he writes for the Sunday edition. "The story dealt with a hideous crime but addressed concerns about the ruined lives of the perpetrators without acknowledging the obvious: concern for the victim."

Philip Corbett, standards editor for The Times, told me earlier today that the story focused on the reaction of community residents and that there was no intent to blame the victim. He added, "I do think in retrospect we could have done more to provide more context to make that clear."

The Houston Chonicle has also been somewhat swept up in this controversy; yesterday editor Jeff Cohen told us the paper's critics were misguided: "People who criticize us for reporting are criticizing the messengers, not the speakers," he said. "This is a horrific, tragic story. We always edit with care but have been doubly sensitive with regard to anything out of Cleveland."

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8 comments
Joe Kersey
Joe Kersey

Typically inflammatory comments by supposed "community activist" Quanel X go a long way toward derailing the pertinent facts in this story. As has been repeatedly stated, the VICTIM was an 11-year-old girl, and the rapes have been captured on video by the PERPETRATORS. Sure, the perps' families would love to get the little scumbags off the hook, guilty or not. And old Quanel is nothing but a camera whore who peddles his umbrage to any black who will afford him another camera op, without the slightest concern as to whether they deserve support or not.

This was a horrible situation, and I hope the perps get the stiffest sentence possible (along with additional stiff sentences once they're in prison). And a blanket media moratorium on Quanny would go a LONG way toward actually healing the racial divide in this area. How 'bout it, Chron??

Luke
Luke

The ombudsmen pointed out that most of the community members interviewed for the piece placed some blame on the victim. He went on to say that the reporters should have done a better job seeking out differing opinions whether from other community members or professionals like psychologists or rape counselors.

I feel like the story accurately reported the feelings of Cleveland or more specifially the "Quarters" section of Cleveland. Where does it state that reporters should go out of their way to find differing opinions just for the sake of finding differing opinions? Do they teach you this in J school?

Andrea
Andrea

Jeff Cohen claims people are blaming the messenger. Well, yes. Yes we are.

We are blaming the messenger for providing coverage without context. I know it may come as a shock to many, but journalists are allowed to provide context.

The NYT editor's quote is perfectly on point: "I do think in retrospect we could have done more to provide more context to make that clear."

Yes, it is an important part of the story to know that many in the town feel more comfortable blaming an 11-year-old child victim of gang rape than the actual adults participating in it. It speaks to the culture that allowed such a crime to happen, to the difficulties that will arise when the justice system cranks in to action, and to the fact that rape trauma is often amplified by victim-blaming and shaming.

Fluerie23
Fluerie23

The Chronicle has Jack as its ombudsman. Old, out-of-touch, and needing a touchdown in the last quarter, steaming like mutton in Winter. Is it any wonder his mouthpiece is out, and yet there is silence from his team.

Hannahnboone
Hannahnboone

so just something i wanted to point out, has anyone taken the time to look over this girls facebook? It seems quite odd to me that she was "gang raped" around thanksgiving and yet her posts are steady and show no signs of tramua she didnt miss a day of posting or anything, also i like to point out that most of the young men being accused of this horrible thing are all friends on her friend list. some even commenting and her commenting about. also her age when u are added to her friend list states that she is 18 and on her myspace it states that she is 19, the thing that bothers me the most is that a 11 year old is posting things so suggestive and inapropriate as the things she is saying. her parents should have been paying more attention to her growning up. I feel bad for her.

Branstetterjoey
Branstetterjoey

Thank-you we live near Clevland Tx and this is awful Maybe now this child may get some help.This also lets people know how little C.P.S.really cares

Kyle
Kyle

Hey Hannah, 11 year olds can't consent to sex, so they raped her even if it was 'consensual' and even if they're her 'friends'. Hope this helps.

FlyingTree
FlyingTree

The only way you could possibly have access to her facebook page is if you know her personally (it is illegal for a minor's name to be released in cases like these) so you are either a) a rape apologist who has no idea what you are talking about or b) someone affiliated with the monsters that gang-raped and ELEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL. It doesn't matter how she reacted to the rape, it doesn't matter how old she looked, it doesn't matter if she initiated the entire thing (obviously evidence points to the fact that this is not the case anyway): This is pedophilia and anyone who blames a little girl rather than the sociopathic, disgusting pieces of shit who raped her is not worthy of the air they breathe.

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