March 28, 2016

IowaWatch Connection Podcast: Removing the Stigma, Part One

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Jane Schorer Meisner, former Des Moines Register reporter, looks at the note former Register Editor Geneva Overholser sent about a 1990 story about an Iowa rape that won The Register and Meisner a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1991.

Lyle Muller/IowaWatch

Jane Schorer Meisner, former Des Moines Register reporter, looks at the note former Register Editor Geneva Overholser sent about a 1990 story about an Iowa rape that won The Register and Meisner a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1991.

Former Des Moines Register reporter Jane Schorer Meisner looks through the notes she's saved from a 1990 series about an Iowa rape that won her and The Des Moines Register the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Photo taken March 14, after an IowaWatch interview at Iowa Public Television's Johnston, Iowa, studios.

Lyle Muller/IowaWatch

Former Des Moines Register reporter Jane Schorer Meisner looks through the notes she’s saved from a 1990 series about an Iowa rape that won her and The Des Moines Register the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Photo taken March 14, 2016, after an IowaWatch interview at Iowa Public Television’s Johnston, Iowa, studios.

The first in a series of programs on Pulitzer Prize-winning Iowa journalists and the stories they told that added to our state’s history. This program is part one of a two-part series, remembering a ground-breaking series that helped removed the stigma from rape.

“I think the initial impact was it took people by surprise,” Jane Schorer Meisner, a former Des Moines Register features reporter who wrote the series.

“Back in 1990 when this series was published people didn’t talk about rape and rape victims. To our surprise they were receptive to talking about it and I think that that is one bit of progress that came about because of our series. Now, did it stop rape from happening? No. Twenty-five years later the statistics are still there, crimes are still happening of this nature and there still is a stigma, I believe. I think that our series at least opened a door to make it acceptable to talk honestly about this crime.”

Funding note:

This program is part of the Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Initiative, a joint venture of the Pulitzer Prizes Board and the Federation of State Humanities Council and Humanities Iowa, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in celebration of the 2016 centennial of the Prizes. The initiative seeks to illuminate the impact of journalism and the humanities on American life today, to imagine their future and to inspire new generations to consider the values represented by the body of Pulitzer Prize-winning work. For their generous support for the Campfires Initiative we thank the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Pulitzer Prizes Board, Columbia University and Humanities Iowa.

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