Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Running the Name


This is no surprise. I fully expected either (1) UGA's athletics machine would lean on the young lady or (2) he'd apologize and all would be well or (3) it was all, of course, a misunderstanding, and anyone can confuse a death threat, or (4) she felt the pressure and just surrendered to the inevitable.

This makes even less excusable the use of the student's name in the story. See my post below.

Original Post

A 20-year-old UGA student accused a football player, Isaiah McKenzie, of making terroristic threats. According to reports, he said "he was going to call some friends and they were going to come out and he was going to kill her." Yes, that's a felony. It's also a felony to eat at Chili's, where this allegedly happened. Don't we feed our players?

Stories by ESPN's David Ching and AJC's (DawgNation)'s Chip Towers identified the woman by name. They were wrong to do so.

Thankfully, The Red & Black and The Athens Banner-Herald did not name her. They got it right.

She's filed a complaint. Until McKenzie is arrested, there is no compelling reason to name her. Indeed, look hard at the SPJ Code of Ethics, especially the part about "minimizing harm." College football fans are nuts, and that's putting it nicely. Just look at some of the Twitter and Facebook comments about this young woman. Sickening. By putting her name out there, Ching and Towers, you've put her at risk. Congratulations.

Let's look at some of the arguments for naming her.
  • It's a public record. Yes, it is. So is the name of a rape victim, but we (the royal journalistic we) make an ethical choice to not name the victim. Just because it is a public record, that doesn't mean it has to be published or aired.
  • It's unfair to McKenzie to name him and not her. Sorry, he has the whole University mouthpiece industry to back him. She has herself. This is a false argument. Again, if he gets arrested, that changes matters. It's just a complaint.
  • It's all a plot by Bama, or the cops who hate football, or someone. Yes, conspiracy theorists, unite now. Jeez.
Quite simply, you do not name her. Not yet. Hell, they even named her father, the head of a government agency in Atlanta. Really? It's not like he's the friggin mayor or something. I expect this kind of crap from ESPN, defender of all that is athletic, but I expect more from the AJC.

Sports reporters, just don't do the cop beat. You'll hurt someone.

Oh, by the way, I tweeted this last night. Never got a response or justification from either. Sigh.

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