Toon & text by John Auchter
A single word to summarize these Larry Nassar trials? How about, “ugh”? Well, it may not be a real word, but it’s a real feeling. Still, as stomach-churning as this experience has been, there are some, if not positive, then at least hopeful takeaways.
First and most obvious is the lesson learned. Or should I say, the lesson again learned: Organizations must have accountability standards in place to protect the vulnerable (especially children). Whether a church, a university, or a gymnastics team — there must be standards and practices that prevent abuses, and if abuses happen, stop it quickly.
The second takeaway is not as obvious but just as important. The crimes were committed, but now at least justice is being served. It required brave young women to step forward and testify. It required dedicated law enforcement and a vigilant judiciary to complete the process. And it also required professional journalists to shine the light.
Without the hard work of reporters like Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells, these awful stories could very well have remained in the dark, hiding those responsible and leaving the victims without a voice, the public uninformed.
It is especially popular these days to talk about “the media” and “the press” as a monolithic failure. And yes, it’s fair to desire quality work — we should insist journalism be as honest and unbiased as possible. But don’t dismiss the institution. There is no question that professional reporters play a critical role in a free nation. We can’t shout “fake news” whenever something violates our ideology and continue to expect journalism to stay strong.