Thursday, April 20, 2006

Duke lacrosse reporting: Is McClatchy's N&O really better?

Did you know The McClatchy Company's Raleigh N& O executive editor for news, Melanie Sill, is upset with national news organizations’ reporting on the Duke lacrosse story?

Sill call’s the reporting “superficial and focused on the case's seamy aspects.”

The national reporting has certainly been superficial and seamy. Outrageous too in it’s shameless appeals to race and class tensions, and in its bias against the lacrosse players.

But what about McClatchy's own N&O? What’s its reporting been like?

Sill says The N&O's been “fair” even as it's “pushed hard on the police investigation.” Pushing hard is necessary because “ (j)ournalism's purpose is to inform communities about important issues.”

OK, let’s take a look at how The N&O informs communities.

Here’s a sample from a lacrosse team story The N&O ran Sunday, Apr 9, on its front page:

Speeding down I-40 while drunk. Urinating in public. Using an adult's ID to buy a case of beer while underage. Kicking in the slats of a fence after an argument with a girlfriend.
Can you see the concentration “on the police investigation?”
Are you glad Sill won't let The N&O engage in “seamy” reporting?

The N&O has published a lengthy interview with the accuser but is withholding her identity. However, it frequently tells readers about her. Here's a sample from a Sunday, Apr 16, story, “Mother, dancer, accuser:”
The petite, soft-spoken woman is described by friends as a caring mother and a hard worker. According to people who have talked with her about her studies at NCCU, she also is a serious student who recently received an A in a difficult course.
I think the two samples cited here typify The N&O’s “fair” reporting.

In yesterday’s N&O you could read this:
They came from a world of hushed golf greens and suburban homes with price tags that cross the million-dollar line.

Before dawn Tuesday, they were escorted into the industrial gray and stainless steel of the Durham County jail. They each wore handcuffs, co-defendants in a gang rape investigation.
Sensationalist? Or just part of The N&O's police investigation reporting? We know what editor Sill would say, don't we?

And there was also this in yesterday’s N&O:
Seligmann, 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, is a 2004 graduate of Delbarton School, a $22,500-a-year academy. …

A winding, two-lane road leads from the center of Morristown, with its Gap, Godiva and Starbucks, to the woods and rolling hills of the Delbarton campus. …

Seligmann's hometown is about 15 miles east of Morristown. Sitting on a hill, the Borough of Essex Fells is an old summer community that New York City financiers and stock brokers now call home. …

The Seligmann's live in a two-story brick Colonial with black shutters and ivy growing up the front facade. Public records show the house is valued at $1.3 million.
In her next column Sill should tell us how Durham police and DA Nifong will use information about the Gap, Godiva and Starbucks in Morristown and Seligmann's parents’ $1.3 million home to build their case against him. We already know how The N&O is doing that.

Remember what Sill says: “Journalism's purpose is to inform communities about important issues.”

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why don't you give us your rendition of how the tale should be told. You seem to have all the questions and critiques. Show your stuff, bubba!

Locomotive Breath said...

Since you won't read it in the N&O, the second stripper has identified herself as Kim Roberts. She has a criminal record a mile long. I can provide a link if you don't already have one yourself.

Locomotive Breath said...

And “Journalism's purpose is to inform communities about important issues.”
would more accurately read "Journalism's purpose is to inform communities about issues we feel are important.

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