ink-stained wretches

New York Times Accidentally Helped Identify Central Park Rape Victim

Pedestrians pass in front of the New York Times Co. building in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, said more than 100,000 people signed up for new digital subscriptions, a sign online revenue may help offset a decline in print advertising and circulation. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photo: Bloomberg/2011 Bloomberg

In an article last weekend about the brutal rape of an elderly woman in Central Park, the New York Times underestimated the power of Google and inadvertently provided information that led to the victim’s identity, something generally avoided in journalism. When notified that a “brief quotation” from the victim’s blog (which was not named) could be searched and traced to the woman’s website, the paper quickly edited the story, public editor Margaret Sullivan reports today, adding that the reporters and editors were “careful … but not careful enough.” Police bureau chief Wendy Ruderman, who co-wrote the article, admitted, “Over all, the Internet is a huge challenge — I have struggled with it a lot.” The 73-year-old victim, though, was forgiving of the mistake, calling Ruderman “a gem.”

NYT Accidentally Helped Identify Rape Victim