Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

The problem with calling rape, “rape”

In IDS on January 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Read this lede.


It was a sleepover.

A 14-year-old boy and his friend were sleeping in a mutual bed. The 14-year-old awoke to the sensation of a touch on his genitals.

Afraid and unsure of what to do, as if paralyzed in a state of shock, the 14-year-old pretended to sleep. The other boy began performing oral sex on him and following the initial sexual acts, proceeded to force himself inside the victim.

The 14-year-old ultimately reported the series of events that unfolded that summer morning to Bloomington police.

After the report, a rape kit was completed at an area hospital.

This case, as it is recorded in police records, was a sexual assault. In fact, it was a number of things according to Indiana Code, including sexual battery and criminal deviate conduct.

But, according to the code, it wasn’t “rape.”‘

You want to know what happens next, don’t you?

That was the start of a project that began last semester, when IDS reporter and editor Michael Majchrowicz — who at the time was BPD reporter — found out that same-sex rape is not considered “rape” in Indiana. Later in the story:

Indiana law does not constitute sexual assault as rape unless it is between members of opposite sex. However, there is deviate conduct, “a person who knowingly or intentionally causes another person to perform or submit to deviate sexual conduct.”

Investigators and prosecutors typically file for criminal deviate conduct when an accused person makes forced sexual contact through means of anal penetration, oral penetration  or penetration with an object without the victim’s consent or if the victim is in a state in which they cannot grant permission.

Prosecutors, psychologists and advocacy leaders have made it clear that a change is necessary — some even calling the current code “archaic.”

The story is well-sourced and well-researched with input from investigators, counselors, prosecutors, local police records, legislative records and FBI records. It does a great job of explaining the problem with rape definitions from many points of view and does so completely and elegantly.

I know this took a long time to report and used a whole number of resources in the project. I’ve asked Mike to comment below and start a conversation about the reporting process. Make sure to read the story, linked above, and jump in with questions/comments if you have them.


IU in first for Hearst Competition

In Awards, Hearst, IDS on January 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I know I’m a little late on this news, but a big congrats to Mary Kenney and Claire Wiseman for pushing IU into first place in the Hearst Intercollegiate Writing Competition.

The enterprise writing competition results were released this week. Mary earned second place for her piece on the “crooked odyssey” of convicted killer Robert E. Lee.


When the phone rang, Dana Jones was at his desk at the mission. The caller was from Indiana parole.

“Do you take murderers?” the man asked, off-hand.“Yes,” Jones said. “We have before.”

Claire earned third for her story about political life in the small town of Butler, Ind.


There are 17 in all, written on the whiteboard across the room, brought in from an Amish-Mennonite bakery down the road.

The couple Capp is serving considers.

For them, it’s simple. The sugar cream.

Pick a pie from the list and move on.

For Capp, recommending a pie is hard enough. Picking one is even tougher.

She’s indecisive. She couldn’t even tell you which party she’s chosen more often.

“I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican, alright?” Capp says. ”I vote for who I think can do the best.”
Right now, Capp can’t figure out who that person is. It takes a while for her to articulate her positions.

That put IU in first in the Intercollegiate Writing Competition. Here are the current standings.

  1. Indiana University
  2. Northwestern University
  3. Pennsylvania State University
  4. Arizona State University
  5. University of Missouri (tie)
  6. University of Florida (tie)
  7. Syracuse University
  8. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  9. Drake University
  10. University of Kansas

Taking first in the enterprise competition was Rachel Janik of Northwestern University. Her story on bullying and suicide in high schools is worth a read.


On a Monday in August of 2010, Tammy Aaberg stood before the Anoka-Hennepin School Board for the first time. She slowly approached the microphone in a red T-shirt, with a collection of rubber bracelets supporting various causes on her wrist. Her eyes, though nearly covered by her blonde bangs, threatened to overflow with tears. She placed a picture of her son on the desk in front of her, and informed the board that 15-year-old Justin, openly gay, had hanged himself the previous month.

Aaberg told the four board members in attendance that after Justin’s death, she learned of the school’s Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy, which forbade teachers from mentioning homosexuality in class. She thought the policy had the effect of isolating LGBT students and leaving them to doubt their self-worth; it left teachers confused and ill-equipped to defend bullied gay students, she said. After she finished, Board Chair Tom Heidemann thanked her, and then dismissed the connection she had drawn.

“Just so you know, there are two distinct policies. One’s a curriculum policy, the other’s a bullying policy,” the chairman said. No student in the Anoka-Hennepin district should be harassed for any reason, he added. He argued that teachers should be expected to take immediate disciplinary action if they witness bullying.

Congrats to all the winners. The next category is sports writing, due Feb. 5, so get those stories prepared to keep IU at the top.

Where is IU ranked?

In Design, IDS on January 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm

Something on today’s IDS front page jumped out at me.

The headline is “IU rated as No. 4 value,” yet here’s the lede…


IU came in at No. 39, one spot higher than last year’s ratings, on a 2013 list of Best Public College Values recently released by Kiplinger.

Wait, what? If I’m reader Joe Easily-Distracted, I’m real confused after that first line in relation to the headline. Are we No. 4 or No. 39? But we continue…

The new rankings also place IU fourth in value within Big Ten schools.

So what’s the news here? Is the fact that IU is No. 4 in the Big Ten more important? Or that IU is No. 39 overall? The headline and the lede should agree on this. I understand that the subhead (“IU ranks in top 5 for overall value in Big Ten, 39th among all US universities by Kiplinger”) offers a little more explanation, but just based on reading the headline and lede alone — which is all I did on my average walk from the news-stand to Ballantine — the reader can get confused.

Also, let’s take a look at the centerpiece graphic, a nice visualization by Lacey Hoopengardner.

RankingCP copy

The main graphic here is showing that 89 out of 100 students at IU return after their freshman year. Great graphic, interesting information but again, this doesn’t directly relate to the No. 4 and/or 39 ranking. Based on the story, Kiplinger measured “a college’s ability to keep students engaged and on track for graduation,” but is there better data to display the ranking highlighted in the big headline and lede of the story?

Is there a better way to visually show off the ranking or the data Kiplinger used that relates better to the story/headline? Is there a way to make the story and headline more reflective of each other? Comment below and let’s start talking. That’s what the Writer’s Block is all about.


New semester, new Writer’s Block

In Design, IDS, Photography on January 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Well it’s been quite a while since this blog has been updated, so I figure it’s about time to re-up. What a better time than a new semester and a new year, am I right?

And as students return to campus, the IDS starts off with a fine edition with a few solid hidden gems.

Like this front-page story about local artist Joel Washington…


Joel Washington’s skateboarder name used to be “Rad Rat.”

On Friday, the 52-year-old Bloomington skateboarder-turned-artist used his colorful pop art to teach children about color theory at the WonderLab Museum of Health, Science and Technology.

Joining him were portraits of Michael Jackson, B.B. King and four of his own brightly designed skateboard decks.

“I’m a color fanatic,” he said. “There’s little colors I have to put in.”

Also this wonderful quote from a creative youngster at WonderLab.

Rosie Black, a 4-year-old preschooler from Bloomington, was experimenting with popsicle sticks.

“I have a shed, and it’s snowing cats,” she said of her abstract design.

Also some great ASF work by Lacey Hoopengardner and Anu Kumar on the region page…


…and Will Royal on the opinion page.


That text reads…


After seeing several prospective sorority members trek through the snow, I began to wonder what their motivation was. I could not see myself walking from house to house in formal attire. Their dedication is truly admirable.

I asked myself, what would motivate me to rush? While sisterhood is not something I dream of, I do have desires that could encourage me to bear the cold.

Clever stuff. In the back section, some really solid design by Chelsea Coleman and photography by photo editors Amelia Chong and Clayton Moore on the arts pages.


Overall, a great start. Can’t wait to see what else these folks pull off this semester.