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I recently got back from sunny St. Petersburg, FLA. Yes, it’s a lovely, tropical area, but I wasn’t there on vacation. Instead, I was there to improve my reporting craft: I attended the 2010 Society of Professional Journalists Reporters Institute. The event is designed to give young journalists (like me) a chance to learn from some of the best in the industry while also meeting and networking with peers. It was a blast, and if you’re interested in learning more about the young reporters who went, see below (from a post I contributed to the SPJ’s First Draft blog):

As you may know, SPJ’s Reporters Institute recently wrapped up. The institute gave 3o-some young journalists a chance to learn from some of the industry’s best, as well as from each other. I will be posting an entry soon that will recap each of the sessions and, hopefully, give you some good tips. However, in the meantime, I encourage you to get in touch with any and all of us. Like you, the group is young and passionate about journalism.

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=125571107462698&ref=ts (you won’t be able to join, but you can definitely get in touch with young journos in your area)

On Twitter: http://twitter.com/journalistnate/spj-reporters-institute

And to prove we’re not scary people:

Attendees of the 2010 SPJ Reporters Institute (yours truly is back row, fourth from left, in the blue shirt. Meet me at http://twitter.com/mrosemn)

Plus, here’s a longer recap of what I learned (also from a post to First Draft).

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Stumbled upon this quandary recently. Figured I’d open it up for some smart discussion. (NOTE: It involves possible sexual assault of a minor, so be forewarned…and be sensitive).

Here’s the situation:

A woman called me and said her significant other (who is accused of assaulting her teenage daughter…charges I wrote about) is innocent.  She said her daughter (who has mental disabilities, the mother claims) made the story up. The woman wanted to get this story across to exonerate someone she believes is innocent. To do so, I would of course need to ID her as the mother of the alleged victim in the story, so as to give weight to the claims. This also inevitably identifies the alleged victim, since it’s pretty easy to connect mother to teenage daughter. And it is the standard practice at most news organizations to not identify victims/alleged victims of sexual abuse, rape and the like. There is sound reasoning behind this: being identified publicly as a sexual assault victim can be humiliating and stigmatizing.

But is it different if a victim wants to identify him/herself? I would say so. If someone wants to talk about their experience in a public forum, who’s to keep a reporter from printing it? However, is it the same when a mother wants to essentially identify her teenage daughter, either as someone with a disability, a sexual assault victim, or both? Or does the rule of thumb (“don’t identify sexual assault victims/alleged victims”) hold true?

Uneasy subject for many, but I would love to hear your (respectful) thoughts.

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