Thursday, May 31, 2007

INNOCENT: Neff Misspeaks (Post 3)

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

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Apr. 11, 2007
Readers Note: I’ve previously posted: "INNOCENT: Neff Misspeaks at Press Club" and "INNOCENT: Neff Misspeaks (Post 2)”

If you’re not familiar with both posts, please read them. Knowing what’s in those posts is essential to an informed understanding of what follows.



You know I’ve twice invited Raleigh News & Observer investigative reporter Joseph (Joe) Neff to correct claims he made concerning the N&O’s coverage of the Duke lacrosse case when he participated on a panel at The National Press Club.

From an audio of the event I’ve transcribed, posted and shared with Neff his claims as follows:

“One of the things that I think really helped our paper throughout this story is we have a really strict policy against the use of anonymous sources and we did not use a single anonymous source or unnamed source in our – uh – I think as of now we’ve written 541 articles by – with at least 19 different bylines on it and what that (Neff pauses)

It was really frustrating in the initial couple of weeks when it was so competitive and no other newspaper and no other radio or TV station felt compelled to – they were going with 'sources close to the prosecution' or 'we have learned' or 'Nightline has found out' and they would just put stuff out there.

Now some of it we knew because we were told off the record, but we won’t use it, but some of it was absolute nonsense –ah – ah – so it allowed us to get beat on some very small things, but in general by not using anonymous sources, we were really saved – ah – from putting some –ah- some bad stuff in the paper.”
(Moderator moves to another matter)
Neff has so far failed to acknowledge he made the claims you’ve just read or to correct the record.

Below is Neff’s most recent email to me, followed by my reply to him.

Dear John in Carolina,

May I repeat my request that you identify yourself so I know with whom I have the pleasure of corresponding? I'm happy to elaborate on my comments in public. I'm quite at a loss that someone who has posted dozens of times to our newspaper website and writes so frequently about my newspaper does so from behind a curtain of anonymity. I much prefer the transparent approach of Prof. KC Johnson.

Which brings me to another point: I saw that your original post on this issue was Monday evening at 9:27. You first emailed me about it 4.5 hours later, at 1:54 am Tuesday, if timestamps are to be trusted. May I suggest you follow Prof. Johnson's practice (and this newspaper's) of attempting to contact people before you write about them?



Dear Joe,

Thank you for your prompt response.

I want to give it a thoughtful response which will speak to your concerns. Yesterday and today been a very busy days, so I must delay my response until tomorrow.

In the meantime, to keep readers current I’ve posted your most recent response, this email, links to the previous posts and the transcription I shared with you.

Have you been able to learn whether will “post” the audio of the panel session?

I’ve listened again to it and it’s certainly very newsworthy. I think people interested in the case and/or contemporary American journalism would find it very interesting.

On my end, I’ll continue to try to find a web site which will “post” it.


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...

What difference does it make if Joe knows your name? Your questions are legit and he should answer them without worring about "who" you are.

Anonymous said...

Alas, Joe Neff is just following Melanie Sill's lead.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 5:40 PM's post. I know you through what you say, not who you are. I find Neff's concern that he need to know your real name odd, especially when the questions are so objective and when he can check your blog to determine how you deal with issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree the N&O have some answering to do. However, I agree with Neff that it is important to attach one's name to opinions, especially since the blogosphere is a public record and usually tries to sway the jury in the court of public opinion. We know
who the gang of 88 are, for example. I have looked up their info on the web in order to see what their credentials are etc. Turn around is fair play. If you have a conversation with someone it is important, not to mention polite, to introduce yourself.

Brant Jones

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree that common courtesy would be to identify yourself if you expect Mr. Neff to reply .You have always had the names and backgrounds of those you have been critical of in this affair and it does seem reasonable that they should have yours as well . I'm sure you could Email this reporter privately if your anonimity to the larger group is your issue . Otherwise I don't believe Joe Neff would be out of line by not responding .

David Carter

Anonymous said...

Brent Jones and David Carter are right.

And who cares if Joe Neff goes around the press clum saying things that aren't true.

And why should he admit he fibbed?

John F. Kennedy

Anonymous said...

Dave in Carolina said...
I respect your desire for anonymity, but there is enough personal information on your blog now to identify you. You've written pieces related to this case under your real name in other venues.
Why not "come out" on your own terms, and call their bluff?
Perhaps Joe will be willing to spend some time with you, answer many questions, follow up on some of your leads... all in exchange for his one quesion: "What is your last name?".
(I know, but I won't tell anyone.)

JWM said...

To the first three Anons,

I agree with what each of you say and I thank you for saying it.

To the next three Anons,

How do each of you know the other two are who they say they are? How do I know any of you are who you say you are?

To Dave in Carolina,

I’ll appreciate it if you respect my desire for anonymity but I can’t control that, can I?

Can we agree that the N&O "works anonymity from both sides?"

By that I mean the N&O knew on 3.24/06 the accuser was Crystal Mangum.

But the N&O didn't tell readers that.

The N&O now says it knew on 3/24/06 that Mangum told them the second dancer was sexually assaulted but that she didn't report it for fear of losing her job.

But the N&O didn't tell readers that.

The N&O knew on 3/24/06 that the players had been extraordinarily cooperative with police. I don't just mean the captains' cooperation. I mean also the cooperation of the 46 players ordered to submit to police DNA testing and face and torso photographing.

One, some or all of those 46 players could have appealed the order. None did, including the ones DPD knew weren't even at the party.

What extraordinary cooperation!

But in its 3/25/06 “anonymous interview” story the N&O didn’t tell readers any of that and instead promulgated the "wall of solidarity” falsehood.

I hope, Dave in Carolina, you go on and take a look at Neff Post 4 which I put up a while ago.

Finally, to all seven of you, thank you for commenting.


Anonymous said...

Joe Neff - What a pious guy. I have never been impressd with Joe or his writing. He is just the only person from the paper who did not pile on the case. Who would care about John's last name. Acturally, anyone can write any name. Ruithie and the paper inflamed this pile of leaves and gave Nifong the right to go mad with the event, Jack the Ripper

Anonymous said...

Dave in Carolina said...
I'll one up you on charges to the N&O. I believe that Samiha Khanna knew that Crystal was most likely lying on Day 1, and wrote her article anyways.
I posed that charge to Ted Vaden, e-mailing him privately with my full name and city of residence. He told me his next article would address my charge. (It did not, it discussed only anonymous sources.) He did not reply to my later e-mails.
It's your choice of course to protect your identity, I just fear that someone with google skills, the time, and the inclination will out you soon.
All the best.