ProJo Aims For Moral High Ground, Gets All Stone-Throwy

On April 26th, a sex worker from North Providence was held at knifepoint and robbed while escorting at the apartment of a Providence man.  The woman went to the police–something she’s legally allowed to do, for now anyway–and it turns out the guy’s got a rap sheet a mile long with a history of pointing weapons at women.

In reporting on the story, Amanda Milkovits of the Providence Journal decided to print the woman’s name and mention the fact that she’s an attorney practicing in Massachusetts. According to the article:

In an interview with The Journal, [the woman] vehemently objected to having her name published and said that to avoid publicity she was going to tell the police she made up the attack. The publicity “will ruin my entire life,” she said.

The article also mentioned that the Attorney General’s office specifically requested that the woman’s name not be published.  Nevertheless, Milkovits thought it necessary to publish her name, anyway.  I e-mailed the Journal this morning to ask why this would be necessary, mentioning that the reporting of these details might also dissuade future assault victims from coming forward.  Here’s the reply I got:

Dear Matthew,

Thank you for writing. The Journal does publish the names of crime victims, except in rape cases. We don’t make exceptions for people’s professions. We have published the names of prostitutes and exotic dancers in several cases, including the Sportsman’s Inn shooting not long ago.

Plenty of people get caught in embarrassing situations that they’d rather weren’t published. We’re not in the business of covering up for anyone.

Lawyers are also bound to uphold certain ethical and moral standards. The public has a right to know that those standards are being followed. If [her] future legal career is in jeopardy, it’s because of her own actions, not a newspaper article.

Sincerely,

Amanda Milkovits

Being the victim of an armed robbery is an “embarrassing situation!”  The Journal is there to enforce “ethical and moral standards!”  There is apparently no distinction in terms of privacy between a shooting in a public place and an assault in someone’s home!

Milkovits also side-stepped the part about this disclosure possibly affecting the willingness of future crime victims to come forward.

If you’re as mad about this as I was, you can contact the Journal at letters@projo.com and reach Milkovits directly at amilkovi@projo.com.

7 thoughts on “ProJo Aims For Moral High Ground, Gets All Stone-Throwy”

  1. I think the Journal is a position where it will always bend towards controversy to sell papers – even if it has to generate it independently. Sure, that’s not a really creative solution for a daily newspaper, but it’s easy and it makes for a more entertaining story.

    Given the terrifying financial situation the Projo is in, I’d imagine they’re praying for a good batch of hate mail and protests denouncing them. People have to buy something before they can burn it and Shock Journalism can’t be too far off the horizon.

  2. Annie Messier

    I understand the ProJo’s policy, Nancy, but there’s a big difference between publishing a victim’s name and address vs. digging up information on the victim’s career and education for a juicy side-scoop. Ms. Milkovits could, and should, have focused more on the perpetrator of the crime rather than personal details about the victim (particularly while disregarding a plea from the AG’s office, which I understand cooperates with the ProJo in investigations–what motivation do they have to provide them with information now?).
    The article speaks more about the victim than the violent man who’s been living in our midst. For instance, Ms. Milkovits briefly mentions that his past crimes include pulling a gun on three women he thought were taking too long using a pay phone. Was this three women crammed into a pay phone or three separate incidents where he did this to three women? It wasn’t clarified because it was glossed over for sensational dirt on the victim.
    I’ve enjoyed some of Ms. Milkovits’ articles and features in the past, but this article and her judgmental correspondence to Matthew (being thrown down and having a knife pulled is “embarrassing”?) makes me think she slept through all those journalism ethics classes.

  3. People should be aware that if you are assaulted by a stranger and report it to the police, you are likely to have your name and address published by the Journal. That’s their policy for many years.
    Every so often, as in the case of a Journal employee who was punched while he was out jogging, there is some public demand that they change their policy. In that guy’s case, the attackers, total strangers, got to see his name, his workplace, and where he lived.
    Don’t think that ‘respectable’ people might not fear to report a crime. It happens.

  4. If you read the comments on the ProJo site you can see how twisted the logic of so many people is. There’s a lot of ‘she asked for it’ type of talk, and people blaming her for arriving at a ‘known criminal’s’ house for a call.

    Seriously, if she was a plumber and on a call at 2:30am when this happened, I’m pretty sure the paper would have honored a request from the AG and the victim to keep the name out of the paper, and I’m pretty sure nobody would blame the plumber for doing work for a ‘known criminal’.

    The fact that she’s a lawyer and ‘held to higher standards’ has nothing to do with it, she’s a business-owner who did her due-diligence in registering her business as the closest thing she could find on the list of industries, which would be ‘dating service’. I don’t recall a checkbox for ‘sexual services’ on the business registration form. She makes her money legally, pays taxes, and works two demanding jobs.

    Who knows, maybe she’s paying-off her student debt and she’s decided that it’s worth it to be an escort, maybe she likes the job; it’s none of our business.

    The paper has clearly taken a side on the issue of legalized prostitution here, treating sex-workers with less respect than the general public.

    Maybe someone should organize a little march of sex workers to her big house on the water ( http://maps.google.com/maps?q=15+Bay+Rd+Warren,+RI+02885 ) so that when someone googles -her- from now on the first result they get isn’t about her respectable day job, but her deplorable ethics.

  5. If prostitution was illegal, I wonder if she would have come forward at all.

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