Transparency is one of the most important facets in journalism and this week’s story involving an accusation of sexual assault and an NFL prospect is a prime example.
When Cleveland 19 first got the tip that something had happened all the way back on April 9, one of our very first decisions was that with no charges, there was no reason to name the person accused. The important aspect of the story to our newsroom was the lack of a police report. As Carl Monday reported, similar cases that happened around the same time had resulted in public police reports much quicker than this one had -- and that was the story Cleveland 19 pursued.
By this past Tuesday, the police did release the report and not everyone made the same decisions about the information that we did. Some released the name of the accused, despite the fact no charges had been filed. It’s too bad the aspect of who was involved so greatly overshadowed the questions raised by the delayed police report.
The attorney for the accused called the allegations ridiculous and ludicrous. We’re certainly in no position to decide the merits of the case at this point, but it is our job to see if all cases are being handled similarly. A spokesperson for the mayor told Cleveland 19 it shouldn’t have taken 15 days for the report to be released.
Maybe if the accused had made himself available to police two weeks ago, the decision whether to file charges or not would have been made much earlier. Maybe if the report had been released in a more timely manner, the public and the NFL would have had much more time to process this information.
So, that’s why we made the decisions we made -- decisions about what we thought was the part of the story that was ready for reporting and about what we didn’t think was ready yet. It would be interesting to hear from those in the accused’s camp and in the police department about what their rationales were for the delays in this case.
Justice got delayed for someone, but we still don’t know for whom.
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