The American Journalism Review tells us it’s
a national magazine that covers all aspects of print, television, radio and online media. The magazine, which is published six times a year, examines how the media cover specific stories and broader coverage trends.And at Durham-in-Wonderland, KC Johnson’s reports the AJR’s article on the:
AJR analyzes ethical dilemmas in the field and monitors the impact of technology on how journalism is practiced and on the final product. The magazine is published by the University of Maryland Foundation with offices in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.
media’s handling—and mishandling—of the [Duke] lacrosse case is now on-line at American Journalism Review. Penned by AJR managing editor Rachel Smolkin, the piece will be the cover story for the AJR’s August/September issue.I’ve read the AJR’s 8,000 word article, Justice Delayed , twice. It’s interesting reading. I hope you give it a look.
I plan to post often concerning Justice Delayed.
Today I want to focus solely on what may be the article’s greatest flaw: it doesn’t report and discuss the Raleigh News & Observer’s decision to withhold from readers and the media critically important statements the hoaxer Crystal Mangum made on March 24, 2006 during an interview with an N&O reporter.
The N&O didn’t disclose those statements until April 12, 2007, the day after NC Attorney General Roy Cooper had declared David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann innocent and almost thirteen months after the N&O published its “report” of the interview under the front-page, above the fold, unqualified headlines:
Dancer gives details of ordealThat March 25, 2006 N&O story of the frightened young black mother brutally beaten and gang-raped by three white Duke lacrosse players whose privileged, racist, drunken teammates were covering up for them was the single most important Duke lacrosse news story.
A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence
It set out the fraudulent “script” for the witch-hunt and frame-up which two days later Mike Nifong used when he began speaking publicly about the case.
Without specifically acknowledging it had withheld the information from its “night of … sexual violence” story, the N&O’s April 2007 story told readers Mangum said during the March ’06 interview she believed the second dancer, Kim Roberts, was also been sexually assaulted at the party, but didn't report the attack because Roberts was afraid she’d lose her job. Mangum also accused Roberts of being willing to “do just about anything for money.”
If the N&O had disclosed that information in March 2006, what might have happened?
How would Mike Nifong have explained an N&O’s front-page report that “the victim” was saying both dancers were sexually assaulted?
The N&O April 2007 story reported:
When asked why she made the report, she said "Most guys don't think it's a big deal" to force a woman to have sex. She confirmed that the claimed incident occurred at a party near Duke.Yet in its March 2006 framing story, the N&O told readers and the rest of media:
Moments later, she added, "Maybe they think they can get away with it because they have more money than me."
She hesitated to tell police what happened, she said Friday. She realized she had to, for her young daughter and her father.What if the N&O had honestly reported the interview in March 2006? What if it had not covered up for thirteen months information the public should have known and that was exculpatory for the players?
"My father came to see me in the hospital," she said. "I knew if I didn't report it that he would have that hurt forever, knowing that someone hurt his baby and got away with it."
Why didn’t the N&O tell us that information instead of reporting the tax value of Reade Seligmann’s parents’ home?
N&O editors prefer not to discuss their thirteen month long withholding of the exculpatory information. ( For any of you wondering how long DSI’s Brian Meehan and Nifong withheld the exculpatory DNA evidence, it was eight months. )
When N&O editors have discussed the March 2006 story they’ve given bewilderingly changing and contradictory explanations that would make you wonder whether Mangum hasn’t been tutoring them in story telling.
Depending on which editor is telling the story and when, readers have been told the exculpatory information was withheld because it was “only details;” the story was “under deadline;” and even that it would have been libelous for the N&O to report the parts of the interview it acknowledges withholding.
The N&O hasn’t yet told readers why it was libelous to disclose the information in March 2006 and for thirteen months thereafter, but OK to disclose it the day after Cooper said the players were innocent.
Is not mentioning the N&O’s thirteen month long withholding and cover-up Justice Delayed’s biggest failing?
I’m not ready to say that.
But I’ll say this: Writing an 8,000 word assessment of media coverage of the Duke lacrosse case and not examining the N&O’s withholding and cover-up of Mangum's statements is like writing a history of major league baseball and not mentioning Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees.
What do you folks think?
Here's the N&O’s 3/25/2006 story (Samiha Khanna and Anne Blythe bylined).
Here's the N&O’s 4/12/2007 story (Samiha Khanna bylined; Joseph Neff listed as contributor).