The decision comes close on the heels of a Twitter-documented (but what isn’t?) disagreement between Tkacik, her commenters, and her editor.
Late last night Tkacik posted an essay about the American media’s handling of rape allegations against Julian Assange, contrasted with American courts’ handling of rape cases and Swedish sexual culture. According to the Cutline, Tkacik usually self-publishes and is back-read by editors, therefore no one read the post before it went up. Some commenters took issue with Tkacik’s use of Assange’s accusers’ names.
Omitting the names of rape victims and accusers is a standard newspaper policy, but Tkacik told Cutline, “Since I had been seeing [their names and faces] on Twitter feeds and all over the Internet, I didn’t have a second thought about publishing them.” One commenter asked Managing Editor Mike Madden to take the piece down.
Madden consented, and later reposted it with this message:
Because of the subject matter, we unpublished it so we could review it. The post originally named the women who Julian Assange is accused of raping. Their names have been deleted. City Paper does not have a formal, blanket policy on whether to name victims of alleged sexual assaults, but in this case, it was inappropriate, and editors should have been consulted before the post was published. An update responding to critics of publishing the names has also been deleted.
Madden told FishbowlDC that Tkacik’s departure has nothing to do with last night.
“Moe is leaving the paper, but we’ve asked her to continue to write for us as a contributing writer,” said WCP Managing Editor Mike Madden. “That decision is the result of conversations that started well before this post was published.”
Sadly this whole debacle only serves to prove Tkacik’s most salient point in the piece:
Forcing some sort of dogmatic equivalence upon every action that technically conforms to the legal definition of “rape” seems guaranteed only to condemn the discourse to an eternal rhetorical circle jerk of slut-shaming/finger-wagging/conspiracy theorizing/etc.
Tkacik wrote about the Bronfman sisters in The New York Observer in August. The piece was one of Longreads’ Top 10 Long Reads for 2010.
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