Opinion Brief

The sexual assault of Lara Logan: What's the fallout for female journalists?

In the aftermath of the disturbing attack on the CBS correspondent in Egypt, media organizations face tough questions about female reporters' safety

CBS News announced yesterday that its chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been the victim of "brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating" while covering the celebrations in Egypt on the eve of President Mubarak's resignation. The correspondent was quickly flown back to the U.S. on Saturday morning, and hospitalized upon her return. She was released today, and is said to be "in remarkably good spirits despite her ordeal." But even as Logan recuperates, many wonder what her treatment at the hands of an Egyptian mob augurs for female reporters in the field:

The media will protect its reporters better: We can only hope this awful news will lead to a "broader push by the Fourth Estate to protect correspondents against assault," says Mac McClelland at Mother Jones. Already, the Committee to Protect Journalists has said it will add a section on sexual assault to its safety handbook. "It's about damn time," too. Already, "too many journalists have suffered similar horrors."
"What journalism might learn from the Lara Logan story"

We'll learn to better value female reporters: "Rape is a risk that comes with the job," and female journalists "face greater threats to their safety than male reporters do in similar situations," says Ann Friedman at Feministing. But women can also "gain greater access to certain sources," by dint of their gender. Would rape survivors in Haiti have opened up to male reporters, for example? It's vitally important we safeguard our women reporters, on feminist grounds — and "journalistic grounds, too."
"When rape is a risk that comes with the job"

And we'll be more open about the dangers they face: Many female reporters face sexual harassment and worse in their line of work, says Laila Lalami at The Nation. But they "rarely report it for fear of losing assignments." For Logan to come forward about her assault breaks this "powerful taboo" once and for all.
"The attack on Lara Logan: war of the words"

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