New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane addressed concerns that the Times provided too much identifying information in a report about the boy known as Victim 1, a boy the former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of molesting.
As we wrote earlier this month, David Newhouse, editor of the Patriot-News in Pennsylvania, criticized the Times for the same article on Victim 1. Newhouse argued in a Nov. 23 editorial that the Times’ report included details that “do not serve the story of Jerry Sandusky. They only serve to make an alleged victim of sexual assault easily identifiable.”
In Brisbane’s Dec. 17 public editor column, he explained that Victim 1’s lawyer and others complained to the Times about the coverage. According to Brisbane, the boy’s lawyer, Michael Boni, claimed that the Times “knew” the story would identify the boy. Regardless, Times’ editors defended the detailed information, Brisbane noted. The Times’ associate managing editor for standards, Philip B. Corbett, is quoted as saying that the story provides information “both about how a situation could evolve, such as what is alleged in this case to have happened, and what some of the impact is on the alleged victim.”
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But, Brisbane noted that even though the boy’s mother had been interviewed in various media outlets, “The mother maintained her anonymity, and her son’s, in all of the interviews.” And, the mother had told one journalist that she was concerned about her son’s identification in the scandal, according to Brisbane.
Brisbane concluded that the critics of the New York Times were correct to question the numerous details about the boy’s identity and that the newspaper seemingly identified him to the public. While Brisbane noted that some of the information “added human interest to the story,” it wasn’t worth invading the boy’s privacy, he wrote.