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How graphic writing distorted the focus of the Rolling Stone rape story

As a Poynter source, I have answered dozens of questions now about the implications of the Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus,” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely.  I notice now that the title of the story is not the same as the headline on the print magazine’s cover, which reads “Sexual Assault on Campus.”

sexual-assault

rape-on-campusIt may just be that the problems with the story, reported by The Washington Post and others, are embedded in the tension between those two titles.  The phrase “Sexual Assault,” however disturbing, is more general and less graphic than “Rape.” Add the indefinite article, and you have something specific and more graphic, with promises of details to come: “A Rape on Campus.”

The particularity of that phrase is expressed most dramatically in the graphic scene that opens the narrative, a scene in which a particular woman enters a particular fraternity house with a particular date who betrays her to seven rapists, one of whom uses a beer bottle on her, another who utters the horrific, dehumanizing phrase “Grab its motherfucking leg.”

I almost gasped when I read that phrase, and why not?  Read more

from Poynter. http://ift.tt/12JDC32

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