5. How the editor of The Sudbury Star chose to respond:

Donald Macdonald, the City Editor of the Sudbury Star, responded to the complaint by agreeing that the story was too explicit.  He subsequently removed two of the sentences in question in the article online:“he asked me to come over and touch his penis,” and, “I woke up in the middle of the night and felt him putting his fingers inside my vagina.”  The sentence, “The daughter also said that one time when she was in her bedroom, her father came in, held her down and tried to use a dildo on her”, remained in the story.  Macdonald said he found the edited article to be appropriately balanced.

In a record of the complaint from the National News Media Council, Macdonald explained the effort in such reporting to strike a balance between conveying “the full horror of such crimes” and respecting the sensitivities of readers. He agrees that in this case, the Sudbury Star went too far.

The NNC expressed appreciation of the actions taken by the Sudbury Star and accepted the argument that “some degree of detail is necessary to convey the horror of the crime.” It also however, pointed to the fact that the Sudbury Star did not offer a content warning for readers, and advised that best practice requires editors to include a graphic content warning at the top of articles that include details of sexual violence.1 National NewsMedia Council, 13 April, 2018.

Babin-Fenske, however, felt the changes were insufficient, and expressed concerns about future similar reporting.  On the latter point, the NNC concluded that it “…is not able to take action on future events.”

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    National NewsMedia Council, 13 April, 2018.