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ProPublica, University of Virginia to Host Talk about Reporting on Rape

April 19, 2016:This story has been updated to include recent news on the Pulitzer Prize.

On April 28, ProPublica, along with the University of Virginia's Department of Media Studies and Center for Media and Citizenship, are hosting a discussion on the ethics, pitfalls and best practices surrounding journalistic investigations of rape cases. Entitled “ProPublica Live: An Examination of Reporting on Rape,” the event was inspired by a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation from ProPublica, in partnership with The Marshall Project, that demonstrated how to cover such sensitive subjects. It was also sparked by the famously debunked 2014 Rolling Stone article that centered on a UVA student’s account of an alleged assault at a campus fraternity house.

Both stories will serve as springboards for a wide-ranging talk on the journalism ethics that arise when reporting on victims of sexual assault, myths about rape victims that affect police and civilians alike, and best practices for institutions and individuals charged with investigating rape.

Moderated by Siva Vaidhyanathan, UVA professor of media studies and law, the discussion will feature ProPublica senior reporter T. Christian Miller and Andrea Press, professor of media studies and sociology, two people whose combined areas of expertise offer a look at the issues from various angles. Together they will take on the thorny matters that, a year after the discrediting of Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus,” continue to pulse through the UVA community.

  • WHAT: ProPublica Live: An Examination of Reporting on Rape

  • WHEN: Thursday, April 28 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

  • WHERE: University of Virginia, Wilson Hall, Rm. 301, 115 Ruppel Drive, Charlottesville, VA

  • WHO: Andrea Press, University of Virginia professor of media studies and sociology; T. Christian Miller, ProPublica senior reporter; Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia professor of media studies and law (moderator)

This week Miller and The Marshall Project's Ken Armstrong were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting, for producing some of the most important journalism on rape in America in recent memory. Called An Unbelievable Story of Rape, the joint investigation focused on the case of an 18-year-old woman who was assaulted in a Seattle suburb, only to be disbelieved by her loved ones and police – and even charged with a crime for false reporting. Going inside the botched police investigation in Seattle, as well as the work of two female detectives in Colorado who ultimately solved the case and vindicated the young woman, the article revealed why so many victims are unwilling to come forward after they have been raped.

The award-winning story – other honors include the George Polk Award, the American Society of News Editors Award, and the Mike Berger Award – has frequently been held in contrast with Rolling Stone’s piece as a counterexample of reporting on rape with ethics, respect and results.

For more information on this event, contact Cynthia Gordy, marketing director, at [email protected] or 917-703-1242.

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