The Power of Social Media

If you have been following the news lately, you probably know about the Steubenville cases where two young men were tried convicted of raping (though they also urinated on her and dragged her passed out body from party to party as well) a young woman at a series of parties over the summer. One of the young men faced an additional charge for using his cell phone to record some of the acts since the victim, known simply as Jane Doe, was a minor at the age of 16. Ever since the initial report of this case, there haas been controversy.

Steubenville is a huge football town – and both of the accused were football players. This meant that the town would inevitably be spit on those who saw through their athletic abilities into their crime and those who fought for the rapists due to their contribution to the football team. As much as I could talk about what is wrong here, my real focus for today is the report by CNN that sparked outrage in so many.

Nearly the entire video is spent sympathizing with the rapists, discussing their impressive resumes and lamenting the loss of the star football players. The victim, the 16 year old girl who has been traumatized for life both physically and mentally, is only mentioned in passing. While it is one thing for a town to be split, the media engaging in such a manner is absolutely appalling. How far will a reported go to be the one with a different angle? Apparently pretty far with our consumer based media.

The only bright side I see in any of this is the public’s response to this horrid coverage. Hundreds have taken to the CNN Facebook Page letting CNN know that they do not approve and will no longer be watching their coverage, and even calling for an apology, which is an action several online petitions have been created for. Since a considerable number of people primarily get their news from social media now, it is entirely possible that the first exposure they get is the public calling CNN out, not rapist sympathizing news coverage – hopefully an exposure that will provoke them into learning about rape culture and what went wrong in this news report themselves.

Looking ahead, social media gives me great hope for working towards social justice. While I often see disorganized hate messages online, there has been an increased number of organized efforts and petitions that cast a critical eye on what has so long been accepted or what has been allowed to “slide by.” This case solidified that. When you have hundreds of Facebook users telling you that you were wrong, it seems that it would be pretty hard not to listen. Hopefully, we will see an apology issued by CNN soon due to these efforts.

3 Responses to “The Power of Social Media”

  1.   Roger Dean Says:

    This is shocking and appalling, but they also played this angle because these were all they had. They did not have the victims name. They couldn’t use the big bad rapists story without an outcry witness available to be sympathetic with or for. I will most likely not be agreed with on this, but this coverage is what they had to get out because it is a shame what happened to those boys. Yes they are rapists and convicted for that. They are sexual offenders. They are registered as that. The victim is hurt like you said emotionally and physically, but these kids will be haunted and followed by that title forever. Everyone will know who they are. They won’t be able to find good jobs. They won’t have good relationships in the future because of this. There lives are ruined. No college. A mistake was made on their part. It’s a shame what happened to all three. Three lives were ruined, but that’s life. It happens. The coverage isn’t that bad in my opinion.

  2.   rcoda Says:

    Wow! Thanks for bringing this to my attention! I had never heard of this story prior to this blog. It’s amazing the emphasis our country puts on athletics. If you think about it, nowadays, dribbling a basketball or running a football will earn you more money professionally than becoming President of the United States. That’s sad, right? While I want to be shocked, I honestly can’t be because athletes always get preferential treatment. As an athlete in high school I can definitely attest to this because I had several teachers who…appreciated the sports I played and henceforth looked out for me as a result. The things our country prioritizes is really sad, and I can only pray for the girl and hope she recovers mentally and physically.

  3.   rcoda Says:

    It’s honestly sad at the things our country prioritizes. Nowadays, dribbling a basketball or running a football down a field will earn you more money than running a country. That’s really disgusting. In addition, it’s no surprise to me that the media chose to pitch the story from that angle. Athletes are at the top of this hierarchy of society. Overall I’m deeply saddened by this story, the story should not have been angled to be fixated upon the young men, but to the young girl who may never have a successful relationship because she is tortured by the constant flashbacks of her past. It’s truly sad.

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