Classic J-question: What did Brentwood Academy leaders know and when did they know it?

GetReligion | 8/10/2017 | Terry Mattingly
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Week after week, members of the GetReligion team receive emails pointing us to stories that readers want us to read and consider critiquing. These emails are essential to what we do. Please keep sending them.

Once or twice a week, people send URLs and, once I glance at the stories in question, it's pretty obvious that these readers are upset about the events covered in the story – period. In other words, they are mad about something that happened or is happening, as opposed to being concerned about a religion-beat journalism issue.

Emails - Kind - Come - Readers - Often

Emails of this kind come from liberal as well as conservative readers. Often, it's easy to tell when a correspondent is involved, in some way, in the events being covered, even if that means they are just onlookers in the community in which an institution is located. However, it is common to hear from angry former members of a particular congregation or religious group.

Let me stress: I still take these emails very seriously and look at these stories. Often, the conflicts described in these stories are truly heartbreaking.

Case - Story - Tennessean - Headline - Lawsuit

That is certainly the case with a story in The Tennessean that ran with this headline: "Lawsuit: Brentwood Academy officials refused to report repeated rapes of 12-year-old boy." Tennessee readers will know that this is a school that is famous for a lot of reasons, including athletics.

At the top of the article there is this: "NOTE TO READERS: This story contains graphic descriptions that may be disturbing to some readers." That's an understatement.

Anything - News - Coverage - Lawsuits - Schools

Now, if you know anything about news coverage of lawsuits involving schools – especially private schools – you know that in the early going school officials can say next to nothing about cases linked to student discipline because of privacy laws. Thus, early news reports are dominated by charges made in...
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