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Book Review: She Said Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

My profession gets a rough deal.

I hate the term “the media” it lumps us all in together and gives an image of a rabid pack of dogs chasing innocent people through the streets or someone sifting through bins for a story. I’m going on record now, I’ve never been through your bins, Christ I haven’t been through my own bins.

It’s been prevalent in recent weeks with so many status updates including the words “Don’t believe everything in the media”. We’ve been accused of scare mongering and going over the top with the reporting of coronavirus. I’m going on record again, I do not have the influence to put words into Boris Johnson’s or anyone else’s mouth, that would also go against ethics. Neither do we get a kick out of a global pandemic. Myself and my colleagues deal with the facts, we report the facts. We work bloody hard to keep reporting the latest information accurately, to hold people to account and to uncover the truth.

From the journalists I’ve been lucky to work with and call friends, that’s the driving force, no political agenda and – sorry to burst the bubble – no conspiracy theory. Don’t get me wrong journalism isn’t perfect, but the vast majority want to give a voice to those who don’t get heard and maybe right some wrongs along the way.

It’s this desire in me that led me to pick up the book “She Said”, it documents how New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the Harvey Weinstein story. It goes further than that, these women investigate and write stories uncovering harassment and sexual abuse, this book gives a fascinating insight into the culture around harassment and abuse and a system that allowed Weinstein to get away with his crimes for decades.

It documents months of investigation, phone calls, paper trails and building trust with sources. They uncovered a web of documents that showed how victims were bullied, cover ups were arranged and how confidentiality settlements were used to shut victims up. These women managed to break through the wall silence, Weinstein’s behaviour was an open secret. Allegations had been investigated in the past and had come to nothing, these two managed to corroborate incidents and find the evidence needed to give his victims the strength to speak out publicly. He’s now serving 23 years for rape and sexual assault. This is journalism. 

The obligation of journalists was to scrutinise, verify, check and question information (A former editor displayed a sign on his desk that read IF YOUR MOTHER TELLS YOU SHE LOVES YOU, CHECK IT OUT.) “She Said” 2019

The build up to publishing the story had me on the edge of my seat; the worries of being scooped, or Weinstein’s team undermining the story before it was released, the showdown with Weinstein himself read like a thriller. But it’s the bigger story and issues that are the most thought provoking and something neither reporter saw coming:

“After we broke the story of Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and abuse, we watched with astonishment as a dam wall broke. Millions of women around the world told their own stories of mistreatment. Large numbers of men suddenly had to answer for their predatory behaviour, a moment of accountability without precedent. Journalism had helped inspire a paradigm shift.”

When the story broke in October 2017, the #MeToo movement was ignited, women had had enough, more were telling stories of harassment they’d suffered, women were speaking out about the abuse they’d suffered, sharing traumatic experiences they’d never spoken of. “She Said” deals with that dam wall breaking and the aftermath; did anything change? Did it go too far? Or did it not go far enough? It’s impossible to answer these questions, it feels like things have changed but there’s still work to do.

The book deals with these questions by sharing the story on Christine Blasey Ford, she came forward to testify against Brett Kavanaugh he’d been nominated for the Supreme court, she alleged he’d assaulted her decades earlier. I remember watching her testify on TV and the surrounding furore, reading what her spurred her on to speak out and the effect it had on her life was fascinating. And that’s what we get to see in this book what happened to those who spoke up, those who did it for women everywhere and for themselves.

Speaking out did make a difference, this story did begin a change in attitudes, and it changed lives. This is Journalism.

That’s what we need to remember, Journalism helped jail Weinstein. Journalism uncovered the expenses scandal. Journalism gives a voice to the unheard. Journalism holds authorities to account. 

Journalists will dig deep into those council minutes and find the hidden story. Journalists will question and look for the truth – no matter how many times someone shouts Fake News.

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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