I commented earlier this week about the strange contortions in the evolution of the story about two California teenage girls who were abducted at gunpoint. They were identified in the press after their kidnapping and rescue, but when police confirmed that they'd been raped as well, press accounts generally stopped identifying them in accordance with standard policy not to ID rape victims; the teens subsequently agreed to be identified. In a comment to that thread, anna of annatopia pointed out this post at crabwalk.com discussing the same issue. That post, in turn, cites a column in which a writer whose daughter was a rape victim discusses the issue, noting that she wanted to be identifed, hoping that more discussion would help erase the stigma attached to the crime.
The comment thread to the crabwalk post pointed out that few of the voices in the discussion over whether rape victims should be identified seem to be women, but also cited this speech by prominent journalist Geneva Overholser, who criticizes the press' reluctance to discuss sensitive topics. Key quote:
When we don't name, don't write, don't list, we feed the public ignorance and the public becomes accustomed to our not naming, not writing, not listing, and argues with us when we do. Yet we have only to look about us to see the appropriateness of full disclosure and to find the arguments that could win the public over, help the public remember that freedom of information is your freedom, not ours in the press.
Several other bloggers have commented on the strangeness of someone who suffered a very recent tragedy appearing on TV to talk about it soon afterward. I haven't seen any of the appearances, but I wouldn't condemn someone out of hand for doing so. Some people need to be alone with their grief, and they should have the privacy to do so. Others may need to deal with their tragedy by speaking out and sharing their experiences.