SPJ to explore sex crimes in the media


Media’s responsibility when it comes to reporting sexual assault will be examined Thursday night by a panel of experts in Moore 108.

Titled “Sex Crimes & the Press: What is the Media’s Responsibility?” the symposium hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists begins at 7 p.m. and will discuss issues of sexual assault and their portrayal by reporters and media professionals, specifically on Central Michigan University’s campus.

Featured panelists include Sexual Aggression Peer Advocate Kevin Reeves, journalism professor Johnny Sparks, women’s rights advocate Taylor Arnett, Lt. Cameron Wassman of the CMU Police Department and Central Michigan Life Editor-in-Chief Justin Hicks.

Sparks brings his knowledge of sex crimes in the media to his special topics course JRN 397A “Sex Violence in the Media."

“It’s a new course here at CMU,” Sparks said. “It’s one that I taught in the past, emerging from my experience as a pre-doctoral fellow and the Kinsey Institute.”

Rather than a typical lecture, this discussion takes the form of an open dialogue between panelists and students, who are encouraged to bring insightful questions and opinions.

Sparks hopes students will come away from the symposium with a better understanding that very few perpetrators of sexual assault serve any jail time.

“I hope that especially journalism students will grow in their understanding of the prevalence and significance of sexual crime in our society,” Sparks said. “I believe that journalists have a great opportunity and responsibility to affect change in this because I believe that public perceptions of victim culpability and just the nature of the crime have contributed to a growing human rights and public health issue.”

Those who attend will have the chance to network and socialize with the panelists following the symposium, and free refreshments will also be provided.

Students who are unable to attend the event can follow the discussion via the live Twitter feed @SPJ_CMich which will post updates continuously throughout the evening under #sexcrimesmedia.


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