Blog Nixed After Bryant Accuser Name Edited

A columnist for the Poynter Institute (search) discontinued her Web log Friday after her editors wouldn't let her identify the woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape.

Geneva Overholser's column, "Time to Name the Accuser," argued that the woman's name should be used in the media after she filed a civil suit against the NBA star.

She wrote that the woman's decision to sue was a "voluntary step further into the public limelight." But where she used the woman's name, Poynter editors inserted "(Name withheld by editors)."

The woman's lawsuit, filed Aug. 10, seeks unspecified damages for pain, suffering, "public scorn, hatred and ridicule." Three weeks later, the criminal case against Bryant was dropped when prosecutors said the woman did not want to participate in the trial.

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a nonprofit journalism school, removed the woman's name from the blog because of uncertainty about whether posting the name would harm the woman, said Bill Mitchell, editor of Poynter Online.

Overholser said she decided to drop the blog, which she had done weekly without pay, because it was no longer a place where she could say what she wanted. She is a journalism educator at the Missouri School of Journalism in Washington, D.C. and a former editor of the Des Moines Register.

"My strong feeling is that we in the media are doing something unprincipled when we decide we know which of two people in a criminal case need to be protected," she said in an interview.

Mitchell characterized the parting as a professional disagreement.

"We regret that because we really respect her thoughtfulness not only on this but on other issues," he said.