Thursday, August 24, 2006

Duke lacrosse: The Raleigh N&O gets rather Kinko

Readers' Note: Who doesn't know about the McClatchy Company's Raleigh News & Observer's biased, inaccurate and inflammatory reporting of the false accuser's claims and the paper's savaging of the Duke lacrosse players?

I've been especially critical of the N&O's Mar. 24 story that "broke" the Duke lacrosse case. In that Mar. 24 story a group of N&O reporters and editors cast the accuser as "the victim" and framed the Duke lacrosse team as her victimizers.

With that background you'll understand that post which follows. You may also want to visit the Editors' Blog where I've posted the comment you'll find below. There are may other related comments there and no doubt there'll be more in the next few days.

Message to N&O: I'll not be run off.


Comment from: John [Visitor] ·
08/24/06 at 22:45

I'm John in Carolina and I'm sending the follwoing electonic letter to N&O reporter Joseph Neff.

To: Joseph Neff
Raleigh News & Observer, a McClatchy Company newspaper
Dear Reporter Neff:

I’m John in Carolina. I publish, edit and frequently report for the electronic publication,

Yesterday, I and were targets of a comment post at the McClatchy Company sponsored Editors’ Blog.

The commenter self-identified using your name and posting from a site that links back to but I can’t identify who actually posted the comment at the N&O site. (Scroll down this link and the thead comment at 08/23/06 at 11:43.)

Since it’s hard to believe a fair reporter would write what is posted, I’m using the qualified “Joseph Neff” when referring to whoever wrote the post.

I hope you’ll promptly respond with an assurance you didn’t write it. I also hope you’ll help identify whoever did.

Commenter “Joseph Neff” objects to statements I’ve made regarding N&O practice concerning naming the accuser as “victim.”

“Neff” says, “I’d like to correct a post by JohninCarolina about the N&O’s use of the word “victim” when reporting on rape and sexual assault cases.”

“Neff” goes on to demand a correction:

"JohninCarolina: If you’ve posted this incorrect information elsewhere, please correct it."
“Neff” wants to discredit what many N&O readers, including myself, have said concerning the N&O’s Mar 24 story which “broke” the Duke lacrosse case.

In the Mar. 24 story, the N&O seven times identified the accuser as “the victim” or with the possessive “victim’s,” without ever once using a conditional qualifier such as “alleged” or “reported.”

Doing that was a deliberate, story-specific departure from standard N&O practice in news stories like the Duke lacrosse story where rape is alleged and the accused deny the allegation(s).

By repeatedly telling readers in that critical first Duke lacrosse story media and the public read that the accuser was “the victim”, the N&O framed the lacrosse players as her victimizers. That was grossly unfair as I don’t doubt you know.

You no doubt also know, Reporter Neff, that the N&O’s executive editor for news, Melanie Sill, has said what the N&O did in that Mar. 24 story with regard to calling the accuser “the victim” is “common practice.”

Sill’s statement is false and over many weeks and in many posts at and at the Editors’ Blog, I’ve provided extensive evidence to prove Sill’s “common practice” claim is false.

The evidence I’ve provided comes from multiple sources, such as the New York Times. The evidence includes the results of a search of N&O archives for the months of January and February, 2006.

“Neff,” however, supports what Sill has said and uses one of your stories to make “Neff’s’” [I don’t use the pronoun here because I don’t know “Neff’s” gender or number. – JinC] case:
"I had used the word victim in many stories, including an article pubished (sic) April 13, 2006:
Reporter Neff, readers who take the trouble to look at your story will see it involves charges of statutory rape.

By my count you 15 times refer to “the girl” or “the girl’s” or use feminine pronoun forms. Only once did you use “victim’s.”

Common practice?

Fifteen to one: common practice?

My search of N&O archives for Jan & Feb., 2006 yielded one story with your byline: “Former inmate faces inquiry.” (Feb. 14)

The story deals with the same case as your Apr. 13 story.

In your Feb. 14 story you never once refer to the girl as “victim.” Here’s part of your story:
"The warrant alleged that Gell struck up a friendship with the girl's parents last summer and began a sexual relationship with the girl in October, about two months before she turned 16. The girl is now pregnant, and she told investigators that Gell may be the father, the warrant said."
By my count, Reporter Neff, you 7 times refer to “the girl” or “the girl’s” or use feminine pronoun forms. Does my count match your count?

Adding 15 + 7 gives us 22 times you could have used a noun form of victim but didn’t.

Reporter Neff, would you say that your 22 to 1 usage ratio supported a claim that using “victim” in a case like Duke lacrosse was “common practice?”

It’s very likely your single use of “victim’s” was an inadvertent departure from standard N&O practice that got by you and your editors, isn’t it?

Can you see why I find it hard to believe you or any decent reporter would post what “Joseph Neff” posted?

But wait, there’s much more; and it makes “Neff” look even worse.

"Neff " says: “I checked the same two months that JohninCarolina researched and found at least four stories where we used the word victim in cases not yet adjudicated. “ and “I’m copying in two short examples below from January and February. "

Here, Reporter Neff, are the two example of the use of victim “Neff” provides.

Form Jan. 21 -- “The News & Observer does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.”

From Feb. 9 -- “The News & Observer does not release the names of people reported to be victims of sexual assault.”

Reporter Neff, as you know, my research had to do with the N&O’s use of “victim,” a singular noun, to describe the “accuser,” a singular noun.

“Neff’s” examples concern “alleged sex crime victims,” a collective plural noun phrase which the N&O regularly uses to describe a class of people to whom it routinely grants anonymity.

I have no problem with the N&O’s anonymity policy so long as the N&O uses a conditional qualifier when explaining it, as it did in the two examples “Neff” cites.

“Neff’s” two examples are so unrelated to what I researched that any good reporter would know that without my saying it.

Some readers will no doubt say, “OK, ‘Neff’s’ two examples don’t relate to what your talking about. But will you please count them as ‘real’ examples? I’d like to see what happens when we do that.”

All right, let’s do it.

For a good part of today, I researched the N&O archives as I did before, using the input word “rape” for the same Jan. & Feb. 2006 time period. There were 64 records returned.

I counted carefully through news stories until I had over 100 instances from N&O news stories that fit what I had said. At that point I stopped counting.

Reporter Neff, as a wrap-up to “Neff’s” post, let’s agree that four out of 100 is 4%; and 4% hardly proves “common practice,” does it?

In fact, it proves just the opposite. And we were generous with the four, weren’t we?

What do you think “Neff” meant to do?

I think “Neff” and perhaps others may have told “Neff” to do what “Neff” did what "Neff" dis in order to slime and intimidate me and my publication, And they went to a lot of time and trouble to do it.

But while he/she/they may successfully slime, they won't intimidate me.

“Neff’s” post recalled to my mind an image of Bush-hater Bill Burket’s copying the forged documents at that Kinko’s in Texas before sending them off to Dan Rather and CBS.

What images did “Neff’s” rather Kinko post bring to your mind?




Anonymous said...

Perhaps you would analyze and comment on this:

Anonymous said...


Liestoppers is already all over that article.

Anonymous said...

Today am struck by two things about the current state of "journalism" at work at the N&O and NYT- laziness and liberal agenda.

NDLax84 said...

Any resolution of the 'But is it reporter Joe Neff?'question?

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