According to the New York Post , CBS News only announced the awful attack on correspondent Lara Logan because other media outlets had found out about the sexual assault and beating. A source at CBS tells the Post that Logan was “’involved in the process’ of deciding whether to make her attack public, and ultimately understood why the statement had to be released.” It’s a shame that Logan may have had to make this decision to go public under pressure-in an ideal world she would have had total control over the dissemination of her assault in Egypt’s Tahrir Square .
However, the very public nature of Logan’s injury does raise awareness of sexual assault rates on women foreign correspondents. A 2007 Columbia Journalism Review article by Judith Matloff points out that sexual harassment is sadly common in “dodgy” places, particularly in war zones, but that women are loath to report their mistreatment because they fear being seen as weaker than the men they worked with. Unsurprisingly, there’s not much data on these assaults, but Matloff points to a small survey of female war reporters that was done by the International News Safety Institute, in which more than half the 29 women polled said they had been sexually assaulted, and two said they had been raped. But almost none of them told anyone:
Even when the abuse is rape, few correspondents tell anyone, even friends. The shame runs so deep-and the fear of being pulled off an assignment, especially in a time of shrinking budgets, is so strong-that no one wants intimate violations to resound in a newsroom.
As the Washington Post ‘s Alexandra Petri says, “Journalists run many risks . It comes with the profession. But this should not be silently accepted as one of them .” If there could be one positive outcome of this story, it’s that women journalists will be silent no more.
Photograph of CBS news chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images.