In an era of partisan media bias, local reporters are demonstrating the “real journalism skills,” such as sifting through court files and speaking to law enforcement, needed to uncover the truth. The journalist, Bethany Bruner from the Columbus Dispatch, was the only reporter in the courtroom the day the rape suspect was arraigned.
Bruner found the court case on the county clerk’s website, and in the courtroom, police confirmed the suspect had confessed and that the young victim had gone to Indiana for an abortion, Nicole Carroll, president of Gannett’s News Division and editor in chief of USA Today said.
The series of events underscores the importance of local news, Carroll said.
CNN political analyst Natasha Alfred said the case is a clear example of the effects of partisan media behavior, which has led many Americans to expect their news source of choice to confirm what they already believe.
“What was terrifying is that people went on television and they cast doubt on the story without even making the effort to find out the facts,” Alfred said.
A medical story
Abortion is a medical matter, but when doctors share stories with reporters, the accounts are secondhand and details can be hard to confirm. Patient privacy is also paramount, and many rape victims don’t want to subject themselves to the media glare.
It can be challenging for healthcare providers to speak out in this media landscape as well.
Fox’s Jesse Watters posted Bernard’s face on his show, suggesting she may have been part of a coverup.
Wilkinson said she’d like to see media coverage focus on the broader landscape of abortion access. She’s a pediatrician, not an abortion provider, but is still nervous practicing medicine in Indiana.
“Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon, which is where focusing on this one story is the problem,” Wilkinson said. “I wish the focus had been not just one patient, but on the many, many patients that struggle to access abortion every single day, long before the Supreme Court hearing decision happened.”