Thursday, May 24, 2007

INNOCENT: Any N&O accountability?

"... these three individuals [David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann,] are innocent of these charges."

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
In her most recent Sunday print column Raleigh News & Observer executive editor for news Melanie Sill told readers [excerpts]:

I'm on the boards of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and the N.C. Open Government Coalition. Both belong to a broader movement drawing in lots of people who aren't journalists: lawyers, librarians, professors, voters' rights groups and many others.

Some want to hold government accountable by keeping records and meetings open. Others oppose big government and see access as a key way to contain its power.

This fight needs soldiers. …

Let your elected officials know you support open government, and check or contact me if you want to know more.
Sill also posted her column at the Editors’ Blog (she's titled it: "The Neff brothers and your right to know") where I just left the following comment:

Dear Melanie:

I want our government to be as open and accountable as possible. I also want the same for our newspapers. Readers need to demand openness from the N&O and hold it accountable when it withholds information from us.

Why won't you tell us when the N&O first learned of the extraordinary cooperation the Duke lacrosse captains had provided police on March 16, 2006; and when and in what detail the N&O first reported that information to readers?

Why is that information still secret more than 14 months later?

Why was there no mention of the captains’ cooperation in your March 25, 2006 “anonymous interview” story about a night you said ended in “sexual violence?”

Who decided to suppress that information and instead promulgate the “wall of solidarity” falsehood? And why did those N&O journalists do it?

The players and their parents have a right to know and so does the public.

Who were the N&O journalists who decided those early Duke lacrosse stories would repeatedly tell the public the accuser was “the victim?” And why did those journalists do that?

Readers should have been told that during her interview with the N&O on March 24, 2006 Crystal Mangum said “the second dancer” had also been sexually assaulted but hadn’t reported it because of fear of losing her job.

Why weren’t readers told Mangum had said of Roberts: "I got the feeling she would do just about anything for money?"

Why did the N&O decide to withhold that important exculpatory information?

What purpose did it serve to withhold that information for thirteen months and not disclose it until AFTER NC AG Cooper declared the players innocent?

You’ve told people the “anonymous interview” story was on deadline.

Well, in that case, why couldn’t the N&O have disclosed a day or two later the exculpatory information that the “frightened young mother” had said “the second dancer” was also sexually assaulted at the party?

For thirteen months the N&O covered up that information and other information regarding what Mangum said during the interview.

Thirteen months!

That’s five months longer than DNA expert Brian Meehan covered up his exculpatory DNA findings.

Is there a National Freedom of Press Information and a N.C. Open Newspaper Coalition?

What about a Society for the Prevention of Framing by the N&O?

For the benefit of readers who want to check what I’ve said here is first, a link to the N&O’s original “anonymous interview” story which ran on March 25, 2006:

and second, a link to the N&O April 12, 2007 story in which it reports information it left out of the March 25, 2006 story without actually ever telling readers it did:

Melanie, I hope you answer the questions I’m asking here. Doing so will be an indication that you're willing to soldier in the cause of open journalism.


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...

John - Just WOW - hope you get an answer, but the questions are great.

Anonymous said...

Excellent work, John.

Anonymous said...

You should send the complete piece into the paper as a Letter to the Editor...It would be interesting to see if they published it?

Doubt you will ever get any answers in response...but what a wonderfully crafted set of questions!

Thanks for putting it together.

Stephen said...

Someone is seething and squirming in Durham right now. John, you pulled off the covers and turned on the light. Like Lubianio did to KC, Melanie has probably filtered your name from her e-mail. Cowards all. Excellent post. God Bless the bloggers!

Tami said...

Yes, excellent questions, excellent post. Regarding the MSM vs the bloggers: There was an absolutely horrific crime committed down in Knoxville that has received NO attention from the MSM. It has all the elements of the Duke case; race, class, gender, ACTUAL rape; throw in torture and murder and you should have a story pounced upon by the national media. One problem, victims white, perpetrators black -doen't fit the MSM agenda or narrative, consequently, NO coverage. Perhaps the bloggers could pick this up. The memories of those two kids deserve some kind of attention. Just a thought.