It’s your turn to ask the questions. In an era of debate over the media’s role, SPJ Rio Grande is gathering several of its members to share information about how they do their jobs with the public. Our discussion will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Student Union Building at the University of New Mexico, Mirage/Thunderbird Room. Each member of our panel will share one thing they want the audience to know about how they work, but no presentations; the majority of this event will be questions from the audience.
By Marisa Demarco
There are two ways a campus sexual assault can be investigated: 1) criminally and by police, which may lead to a trial in months or years down the line 2) administratively by a university, which could lead to a student being suspended or expelled. People who’d been sexually assaulted at the University of New Mexico came to me with stories about how the long, confusing administrative investigation left them feeling vulnerable, and in some cases, unable to finish school. In some instances, the reporting process itself, they told me, put them in jeopardy. They said the system re-traumatized survivors of sexual assault.
The federal Office of Civil Rights says administrative university investigations should take 60 days. But I was hearing from my sources that these were going on for way longer than that.
By Heath Haussamen
A recent tweet from U.S. Immigrants and Customs Enforcement (ICE) revealed that the agency had arrested an Arkansas man on “child sex tourism charges.”
That arrest fit the narrative ICE spreads – that immigrants are criminals who need to be deported – so the agency released details. But try to get information on a detained immigrant not wanted for any crime other than living in the United States without legal status, and you get a different answer. Last month, after four days of back-and-forth emails, an ICE spokeswoman told me the agency would release no information on a case I was asking about “absent a signed privacy waiver from the individual.”
For days, she said she was researching my request. She could have given me that answer from the start. That’s called being given the runaround.
The Society of Professional Journalists chose the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission for the 2016 Black Hole Award. The award draws attention to “government institutions or agencies for outright contempt of the public’s right to know.” SPJ Rio Grande board president Laura Paskus nominated the ISC this year:
I’ve been a journalist for almost 15 years and have been covering this particular agency for that entire time. Over the past few years however, the agency has become increasingly secretive, in particular as the state has proposed building a controversial diversion on the Gila River, here in New Mexico. Most recently, the agency refused to release an unlocked version of a spreadsheet to a citizen … and it took a US senator reading my story to get the citizen the records.