August 11, 2009 - 11:04 AM
I turned on WGR radio Monday afternoon and was surprised to hear co-host Mike Schopp say the station wasn't going to use the name of the city cab driver who has accused National Hockey League star Patrick Kane and his cousin of robbing him and attacking him early Sunday morning.
Schopp explained that he was following the example of sister station, WBEN, which specializes in news coverage and opinion. He said the idea was to protect the victim.
How caring. How naive.
In today's media world, names are going to get out quickly in high-profile cases involving professional athletes like the Kane case.
A few hours after Schopp made his comments, the cabbie's own lawyer, Andrew LoTempio, was using 62-year-old Jan Radecki's name on a Chicago radio station.
Of course, there are some good reasons to protect the names of victims in the news. They usually involve rape and sex cases or cases involving people who would be susceptible to crimes -- like the elderly -- if their names and addresses are used.
But these days, even women who accuse men of rape don't always have their names protected.
When Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was recently accused of rape in a civil case filed by a Nevada casino worker, he used her name in a press conference in which he denied the accusations.
In the Kane case, there was no apparent reason to keep Radecki's name a secret. And you could make a more compelling argument that his name should have been used in the media to see if there were any skeletons in his closet.
With the cabbie's name out there, it would be easier to determine if there was anyone who could speak to his reputation and possibly help determine who actually was the victim.
On Monday night, Channel 2 was the only local station not to use Radecki's name. Channel 7 and Channel 4 both played portions of the conversation that LoTempio had with a Chicago radio station host in which the lawyer used his client's name. That made it acceptable for the stations to use his name.
On another matter in the case, some elements of the news media are treating the accusations against the Kanes as facts. This morning, I heard a WGR staffer say the dispute came in a disagreement over 20 cents. Actually, Radecki told police that the dispute was over the fare and it should be presented that way in media reports and not reported as fact.
Of course, in today's media world, accusations sadly are also routinely treated as fact without attribution.
Do you still think the media should have kept the cabbie's name a secret? Or do you understand why the media eventually decided to use his name?
-- Alan Pergament