Was it Correct to Write the Story?

ATHENS – So was the Red and Black wrong to write the Taxi story?

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That's a good question – and a legitimate one – perhaps one the Red and Black should have considered before running the story in incident report and online.

Let's get a couple of items straight first.

The victims in the incident report are two university students who are married to one another. The male, according to the report, claimed that four black males, "all of whom were UGA football players", hit both he and his wife, verbally assaulted them and asked if the couple was interested in the wife having sex with the four alleged football players. And (don't want to leave this part out) alleged that one of the football players told the male victim to "turn around if he wanted to live."

The Red and Black's story about the incident, however, didn't mention that the four alleged assailants were supposedly football players, which was stated in the incident report. That's a heck of a thing to leave out considering the shocking nature of the allegations, and who the victims are alleging of simple battery and terroristic threats. On top of that, the paper had a direct quote from a witness saying that he and the victims were not "particularly drunk."

I don't know what that means. Does that mean you are drunk or not? It certainly doesn't mean you are sober. Someone being drunk does not mean, particularly, that they don't know what's happening. But it would make me shy away from writing a he-said-she-said story about something so serious.

Still, the paper ran the story anyway, but did so without writing what would have been a pretty big part of the allegation – who it was. At the same time, however, they published the incident report online where you could read about the alleged four football players, their "black dick", gangbangs and bratwursts to your hearts content.

The Red and Black wrote the story… and uploaded the incident report. They pushed the story into the public domain.

Journalists have a responsibility to know when to write stories and when not to. Just because you have what looks like a bombshell - i.e. four black (yes, we are in the South and race still matters for one reason or another) Georgia football players ready to verbally, physically and sexually assault a married white woman – does NOT mean you pound that story out.

The entire incident report was bizarre to begin with, and would make me pause before writing anything. Obviously the Red and Black did a least a little reporting (perhaps more than we are aware of) on the story as they had quotes from a witness, but the quotes were only slightly less strange than the incident report itself, which was filed more than 48 hours after the event allegedly had taken place – also a little strange.

The Red and Black, in fact, was not the only media source that had knowledge of the alleged event – and not the only one that had the incident report in hand. But yet, for some reason, they were the only paper to write about it. Why is that?

I'm not here to blame the victims – that's not the point of this article at all. Also, I am not here to say the Red and Black can't write stories it deems worthy of writing.

Instead, I am saying that there is a certain standard I would have hoped the student newspaper that covers my Alma Mater would have in cases like this one. I am disappointed the standard I thought they had is actually a lot lower than I figured. The Red and Black didn't get any facts about the incident report incorrect, but, again, you have to use care and make certain what you are reporting deserves to be reported. And that what is being alleged in the police incident report is correct.

Was the Red and Black wrong to write the Taxi story? Yes, they were wrong to write the story they way they did, and at the time they wrote it. There was not enough there to put something so explosive in the public domain. It involved major allegations pointed at one of the biggest estates in Athens – the Georgia football team.

The media should always take care and caution when writing, but with a story that is potentially so huge in terms of ramifications in and around the Georgia community, the Red and Black should have taken even more care than usual with the story. I am disappointed they did not do so.


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