RAPE. The unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
It sends a shiver up your spine, or it should. It is extremely serious by definition and is animalistic in nature. Anybody deemed a rapist is deemed an untamable, unfit, and dangerous member of society and rightfully so. RAPE is such a serious word, I think it is utterly irresponsible to use the term unnecessarily or inaccurately, which includes for shock value in a campus newspaper.
Admittedly, there is not a false word within the actual story, but the image that sits above the fold speaks a thousand words on its own: red, bold-faced, enlarged lettering spelling out RAPE right in front of the blown-up head shot.
Now, of anybody on campus, a credible journalist should know that this image will resonate with readers more than a bland story, which leads me to my next point.
This story contained no substance, no cutting-edge or insightful information. Yes, if The Chart merely wanted to stir up some type of angst within the student body and a hatred for their organization, then they achieved it, but as for appropriately informing the student body, not so much.
The news is to bring some type of closure and be the voice of students who aren’t able to ask the tough questions.
Journalists exist to shed light on the truth and provide new information, so people are able to construct their own opinions.
What is the point of causing shock value when it really only causes mistrust between the paper and the body of students it is to be working for?
I don’t doubt that this topic should have been and would have been discussed in the last issue, but the manner in which it was, was a distasteful and nearly unlawful one.
I say this because the story contained no angle whatsoever. It was enough information to fill a column, not a front-page headline, which explains why there is more photo content than text content.
It also explains why there is a lack of depth in the story’s structure and an overabundance of irrelevant information. Is it necessary that I know where he played junior college football? Does that hold any relevance or progress the story in any way? I don’t personally think so.
He is not a rapist. He is not even a criminal. Now, he doesn’t even attend school here anymore, so why is he on the front page of the Southern paper? Not to mention he hasn’t been at school here since October 23rd, 16 days before The Chart’s publication. It seems a bit out of date.
Maybe there should have been more inquiry about why the student was still suspended after absolutely no charges were actually filed by the authorities of Jasper County. There were no charges filed because there was insufficient evidence in an assault charge that was falsified for whatever reason.
Now, THAT is a news story. As a student at Southern, I would rather know about the inconsistencies and differences between the law and our code of conduct, so I know my rights here on campus. It would probably even be more beneficial to write a piece reiterating the rules implemented at the dorms to avoid and protect other students from these types of serious allegations in the future.
All in all, we as journalist[s] have responsibilities to uphold as the authorities of newspaper, television news and online media outlets. It is not our job to slander fellow students and peers, especially in such significant and life-changing ways. It is irresponsible to paint the picture of a rapist, when in reality, he endured lengthy investigation by two different police departments and was not ever even brought up on any criminal charges, so if his records do not defile him as a rapist, I don’t think our campus newspaper should either.