Lara Logan Speaks on Her Sexual Assault in Egypt

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Lara Logan in Cairo
As the deaths of photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros sadly reminded us last week, journalists continue to face dangers all over the globe, and especially in the volatile Middle East, where a rash of uprisings have created historic opportunities to capture news, but also high-risk zones. Lara Logan, the CBS correspondent on the ground in February during the protests that eventually toppled President Hosni Mubarak, "suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating," according to initial reports back in February, when she was separated from her team and overtaken by a mob. Questions arose at the time about the details of the assault Logan suffered, but with the exception of a few choice assholes, her privacy was largely respected by her viewers, colleagues and contemporaries alike. Now, Logan has deemed it time to talk about her experience, telling her side of the story to the New York Times ahead of a 60 Minutes segment about her assault this weekend. There's more on Logan's ordeal inside Press Clips, our daily media column, plus news on Michael Arrington's money-making and the forthcoming website from ESPN's Bill Simmons.

Speaking Selflessly: The mood was "celebratory" when Logan was jostled away from her producer and bodyguard in Cairo, she explains, but soon became "threatening" once she was alone amid a crowd. "For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands," Logan tells the Times today, making a deliberate choice of words in an obvious attempt to be blunt about what happened to her; as the Times' Brian Stelter writes, "sexual threats against women are rarely talked about within journalistic circles or in the media."

Even still, Logan stopped short of providing any more specifics about the chaotic moments when she thought she might die.

"My clothes were torn to pieces," Ms. Logan said.

She declined to go into more detail about the assault but said: "What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence."

Logan said she is speaking out to represent the "millions of voiceless women who are subjected to attacks like this and worse," making her lack of a more graphic description admirable; her decision to not be salacious or self-aggrandizing is a savvy maneuver meant to deflect the spotlight away from one Westerner's potential martyrdom and toward a much more widespread, terrifying issue. Read the rest of the Times' account here.

Logan says Sunday's 60 Minutes segment will be her last interview on the subject.

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Simmonsland: Elsewhere, in lighter media news, ESPN's top columnist and brand name Bill Simmons has a new site in the works, which we've been hearing exciting murmurs about for some time now. Today, it gets a name -- Grantland, after classic sportswriter Grantland Rice -- and notwithstanding that indescriptive choice, which we're lukewarm on, we're feeling 99.9% cynicism-free.

Signed on already are editors Dan Fierman (GQ, Entertainment Weekly), Lane Brown (New York) and Jay Caspian Kang (The Atlantic), in addition to a host of lovely (and young!) writers, which you can find here.

As if just to brag, the site's "consulting editors" are listed as Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell and Dave Eggers. Grantland, which will mix sports and pop culture, is slated for June, when every major sport is conveniently either underway or ramping up.

Conflict of Intere$t: The AOL/Huffington Post-owned TechCrunch featured an interesting note from its chief Michael Arrington yesterday, in which the tech maven and occasional brute spelled out his own "Investment Policy," or in other words, how a man who runs an editorial website about technology can also invest in (and thus make huge dollar amounts off of) said technology.

His answer is to simply disclose it all in blog posts, admitting that "there will be financial conflicts of interests in a lot of my stories. Either because I write about those companies, or write about a competitor, or don't write about a competitor." If that sounds yucky, it gets a little bit more questionable as he spells it out:

I think that this will all be fine. I'll still be very hard on companies I invest in when they deserve it (ask Seesmic founder Loic LeMeur about that sometime), and I will still be quick to high five a company that's doing well even if I'm not an investor, or if I'm an investor in a competitor.

Other tech press will make hay out of this because they don't like the fact that we are, simply, a lot better than them. That's fine, but when you read their coverage remember that they're our direct competitors, even though they won't "disclose" that particular conflict of interest. Luckily they don't get to make the rules we operate under. We do, and you, as readers, can choose to accept those rules and read, or not and leave.

Arrington's honesty is refreshing in a way, but whereas political objectivity in a journalist is a false premise to begin with, similar disclosures about biases from 2.0 journalists, who find themselves at home on the web, ultimately feel less icky because opinions are opinions and humans all have them. What most journalists don't have is the chance to get rich off their subjects; Arrington, open or not, has exactly that.

UPDATE: Arrington gives an interview on the subject to Business Insider, as AOL explains their new policy, which specifies that none of their editorial employees can make investments related to subjects they cover... except Arrington, who "operates from a unique position." Kara Swisher at All Things D has an in-depth analysis well worth a read.

Missing at the Times: And in today's bit of playful media news, New York Times social media editor Lexi Mainland reports via Twitter that someone in the newsroom has misplaced their most important tools as a journalist: drinking supplies. Whoever lost their cocktail shaker wants it back so badly that they made a detailed poster:

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Real journalists -- drunk like us.

[jcoscarelli@villagevoice.com / @joecoscarelli]


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