In the midst of the #MeToo reckoning, let’s consider the role of journalism.
Of course, the foundation of the movement is the brave women who have been abused and who have stood tall willing to reveal the most intimate details, willing to stand the questioning and trolling to tell their truth.
Without them, there would be no story.
A newspaper is responsible for amplifying voices, especially those of people in positions of less power. However, hearing their accounts is only the start of an often long process of corroboration, finding relevant documents and then asking the accused for a response to the allegations.
We saw it in The Globe and Mail’s Unfounded series, conceived and written by Robyn Doolittle, who told the stories of many women across Canada whose allegations of rape were dismissed as unfounded. In the course of the 20-month investigation, she not only spoke with dozens of women, but also used Freedom of Information requests to gather police data from across the country. Her findings that women’s sexual-assault allegations were dismissed at a rate far higher than allegations of any other type of assault caused a Canada-wide reckoning, with police reviewing and reopening cases and government promising funding to probe gender-based violence.
In the United States, New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story, along with Ronan Farrow, writing for The New Yorker.
Ms. Kantor spoke recently about The Times’ commitment to sexual-harassment coverage. She knew that allegations against Mr. Weinstein were openly referenced, yet little had been researched and written. The reporters spent four months talking to women, looking at the money trail and internal documents. “[W]e wanted as many documents, as many records of settlements … and we wanted it to be irrefutable, because a lot of these things happened in the privacy of a hotel room,” she said in a podcast on Slate.com.