Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reporting When a Sex Abuse Scandal Hits Home

This morning the lead story in the Philadelphia Inquirer was probably one that no one at the paper ever imagined they would have to write. Award winning baseball writer Bill Conlin had been accused of multiple instances of sexually abusing children back in the 1970s. The story on details horrific acts and how the allegations managed to remain secret until now. Also accompanying the article is another piece from the editor of the Philadelphia Daily News talking about how it was difficult, but necessary for the Inquirer/Daily News conglomerate to report on these allegations against one of their own.

While editor Larry Platt pledges vigilance in their coverage of these accusations, I wonder how this story will impact their coverage of the Penn State and Catholic Church sex abuse scandals. Will they be less likely to write about the ignorance of those closest to the alleged abusers since they themselves didn't know an alleged abuser was in their midst for 30 years? I did notice that neither of the Bill Conlin articles online allowed for comments and I'm interested in why that is. Perhaps the papers have seen the hurtful comments that people have left on their stories about the other two scandals and don't want to have all that venom spewed in their direction? What does that say about the value of comments left on news stories?

It will be interesting to watch how the Inquirer/Daily News conglomerate handles the Bill Conlin abuse scandal and others going forward.