03/22/2013 02:33 pm ET

CNN's Steubenville Coverage: What Questions Should The Media Ask About Rape? (VIDEO)

CNN's controversial coverage of the Steubenville rape trial has provoked questions about the role the media should be playing when it covers rape.

Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year old girl. CNN came under fire for its coverage of the verdict.

Thousands of people have signed a petition asking CNN to apologize for its coverage. Many viewers criticized correspondent Poppy Harlow and anchor Candy Crowley for focusing too much on the verdict's effects on the defendants — who were described as "star football players, very good students" with "promising futures" — instead of the victim herself. ABC News drew fire over its coverage for the same reason.

HuffPost Live guest Jaclyn Friedman echoed that sentiment on Thursday. "The problem is not that there was empathy expressed for the emotion expressed in that courtroom," she told host Josh Zepps. "The problem was... that it was all about this tragedy that happened to these two boys. There was no mention of the fact that this was a result of something they did."

Guest Mary Anne Franks, a professor at the University of Miami Law School, said that the criticism spoke to the questions people believe the media should be asking. "Are they there to just sentimentalize or to give us an emotional sense of what is happening for any of the individuals involved, the victims or the perpetrators, or are they there to help us make sense of what is happening?" she asked.

Franks continued, "It's not a question of censorship as much as, why is there this assumption... that the only thing or the most important thing that matters is the emotion reaction of the perpetrators?"