USA Today publishes Elon alumna’s reporting project on campus sexual assault
Kate Murphy ’15, a higher education reporter for The Cincinnati Enquirer, and her colleague spent nearly a year examining the many elements and perspectives surrounding the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. Their findings were published on Aug. 6 on the front page of USA Today and an extensive video series is available online at sextalk.usatoday.com.
Nearly a year ago, Elon alumna and Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Kate Murphy ’15 set out to examine campus sexual assault, looking beyond Title IX documents and federal lawsuits to foster an honest conversation about today’s college culture, as well as how to address and prevent sexual assault on campus.
A higher education reporter, Murphy teamed with fellow Enquirer journalist Meg Vogel to develop and create a special project, titled “The Sex Talk: The conversation that is not happening about campus sexual assault.” The investigation was first published on Aug. 5 by the Enquirer. Two days later, the story was the centerpiece on the front page of USA Today. (Both papers are owned by Gannett.)
The two reporters interviewed 24 individuals about consent, rape culture, alcohol, fear, campus process and who's affected during sexual assault and their investigations. Their findings consist of a series of thought-provoking videos available at sextalk.usatoday.com.
In addition to interviewing survivors, the accused, family members, university officials and police officers, Murphy and Vogel spoke with the Rev. Fr. Michael Graham, president of Xavier University, who went as far as to call sexual assault on campus an “epidemic.”
Following the release of her investigation, Murphy tweeted, “watch and listen to these compelling perspectives that will challenge what you thought you knew about the issue.”
She added, “It's not an easy topic to unravel and our culture makes it complicated. We listened to all sides. What we heard was devastating, enlightening and confusing.”
There are several companion pieces to the video series, including an article by Murphy addressing why the reporters investigated the topic – and what they learned along the way. Additionally, Beryl Love, Enquirer executive editor, offered his perspective on the expansive video project and the topic of sexual assault on campus.
As an Elon undergraduate, Murphy participated in a summer 2014 investigation by Carnegie-Knight News21, reporting on the issue of gun rights and gun legislation. The project, titled “Gun Wars,” won an Online News Association award in 2015. She was also individually recognized for her News21 story, “Armed teachers aim to defend K-12 schools,” which placed fourth in Hearst’s 2015 Enterprise Reporting competition.
Additionally, Murphy interned with The Times-News of Burlington, worked for The Pendulum, and started at goalkeeper for Elon’s women’s soccer team.