Farhi explained that U.S. media outlets usually don’t name alleged victims of sexual assault for privacy reasons:
“The no-name tradition, which dates back at least a century among newspapers, reflects the media’s assumption that public disclosure of sexual assault would cause additional pain for the alleged victim. It’s a prohibition generally shared by victim’s rights groups and criminal prosecutors, who say the stigma of sexual assault is so grave that accusers should be spared public exposure.”
But some commenters on the article decided to name her, Poynter’s Steve Myers reported. As StinkyJournalism has written, the woman has been named in some stories from the international press. The woman recently filed a libel lawsuit against the New York Post for its reports alleging she is a prostitute.
Poynter’s Myers noted that the Washington Post has deleted the comments naming the woman and that the Washington Post ordinarily “does not moderate comments prior to publication.”
Washington Post managing editor Raju Narisetti reportedly e-mailed Myers to explain the publication of the comments in question were “an oversight.”
“Given the volume of comments, we are somewhat dependent on readers flagging comments that violate our standards to catch those that don’t trip our automatic ‘bozo’ filters. We should have deleted these in keeping with our normal standards on such issues.”
iMediaEthics checked the Washington Post’s comments again just before this post went live. There are no comments naming the woman. One, “chrisbrown12” commented that he “tried to post the name but was thrown at.” That user did direct other commenters to a newspaper that features a photograph of the woman.
iMediaEthics has written to the Washington Post’s Narisetti to ask if it intends to delete all comments naming the woman. We will update with any response.
UPDATE: 07/08/2011 5:58 PM EST: A spokesperson for the Washington Post responded to iMediaEthics’ e-mail inquiry. The spokesperson stated:
“The Post intends to delete any reader comment naming the woman, and we continue to closely monitor comments on articles pertaining to the case. Given the volume of comments we receive, we also rely on readers to help flag comments that violate our standards. “