Tuesday, August 07, 2007

N&O Public Editor Responds

Readers Note: Yesterday I posted asking “ Will N&O public editor Ted Vaden answer any of the following seven questions?"

Vaden has responded.

What follows is first the email I sent Vaden which you can skip, read or use for reference as you think best.

My email ends at the double star line, after which Vaden’s response in full begins.

In cases such as this, I leave the response up for at least a day before I respond. That's to give readers a chance to look at what the responder said without my jumping right in.

I plan to respond to Vaden in a day or two. In the meantime, I've thanked him for the promptness of his response.

Readers are welcome to have their say right off, so long as they observe the rules.

Almost everyone who comments here does. The few who don’t are deleted.

The most important rules: Be civil. Be fact-based. No ad hominems.

Thank you.

John
___________________________________________

Dear Ted:

As you know, on April 12, 2007, the day after the Attorney General had declared the three young men innocent, the N&O for the first time reported that during her interview with the N&O on March 24, 2006, Crystal Mangum” said the second dancer was also sexually assaulted at the party but didn't report it for fear of losing her job. Also, Mangum said the second dancer “would do anything for money.” And more the N&O didn't report.

Questions:

1) Why did the N&O d say nothing about any of that when it reported on the interview in a front-page, above the fold story headlined Dancer gives details of ordeal? (3/25/06)

2) Why did the N&O for thirteen months withhold from readers and other news organizations crucially important news the public should have had, and which was so exculpatory for three young men the N&O must have realized very early on were being framed?

3) When did you first learn of your paper’s news suppression and its cover-up of same; and what did you do about what you'd learned?

4) You’ve so far failed to comment publicly on what the N&O did. Why is that?

5) When can readers expect you to comment publicly on what the N&O did?

6) Does the N&O intend to apologize to the three young men, their families, its readers, other news organizatons and the community for what it did beginning on March 25, 2006, and for thirteen months thereafter?

Most people I talk to, including journalists, think an apology is the least the N&O should do.

Thank you for your attention to these questions. I’ll publish your answers in full at my blog.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

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Hello John,

I first knew the content of the other comments made by the accuser when I read them in the article of April 12, 2007, that you refer to in your post. When I interviewed The N&O's editors shortly after the March 25, 2006, interview story was published, I was told that the story was limited to comments supported by information in the public record, i.e, police reports or court records. The allegations about the other dancer were not in the public record.

I do not know if The N&O intends to publish an apology. As public editor, I would not be involved in that decision. Ruth Sheehan, as you know, did write a column apologizing to the lacrosse players.

I have commented publicly about The N&O's coverage of the lacrosse case in at least five columns in the year after the story was first reported, most recently in an April 15, 2007, column assessing the coverage.

You can find it at http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/vaden/2007/story/564152.html

Sincerely,

Ted Vaden

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Vaden daid:

"Hello John,

I first knew the content of the other comments made by the accuser when I read them in the article of April 12, 2007, that you refer to in your post. When I interviewed The N&O's editors shortly after the March 25, 2006, interview story was published, I was told that the story was limited to comments supported by information in the public record, i.e, police reports or court records. The allegations about the other dancer were not in the public record. "
:: :: :: :: :: ::

John,
Please ask Mr. Vaden why he didn't ask his editors and/or reporters what else CGM said that wasn't in the police reports. I would think that info would be a possible scoop for the paper.

Anonymous said...

Well, Ted Vaden continues to be a useful as an anchor on a bicycle.

-AC

kbp said...

Thanks john

Maybe you could ask him what he would say in his column if he was aware of all this and it had been published by another paper (or something of that nature).

kaz said...

If, as Vaden says, "I was told that the story was limited to comments supported by information in the public record, i.e, police reports or court records."

1. Why have they not identified the police reports and court records they referenced?

2. Why did they do the story at all? Would not a dry recitation of the statements made in the official documents have provided the same information without all of the emotional baggage?

3. Has he investigated whether or not the paper was "used?" Who tipped them off on the identity and location of the accuser? Who wanted the story out in public as a first person narrative?

4. As things started falling apart, why was there no reassessment of the decision to withhold the potentially exculpatory statements, especially in light of his comments that "some key disclosures made by the paper's reporters:" included "• Problems with the evidence upon which the prosecution based its case, including the accuser's changing versions of the alleged assault." If the Observer was pointing out how the story changed, couldn't they find room for the earliest instance of the story changing before the AG came out and ended the case?

Anonymous said...

Gee, that was a comprehensive response, wasn't it? He covered all the bases (sarcasm).

Anonymous said...

John:

As I read through Vaden's response I could only shake my head. Seemingly, it was a total denial of the damage the paper had caused.

I think its appropriate to examine the single most damaging act commited by the N&O: the March 25, 2006, interview story, allegedly containing only public information. OK. Let's take a look at that.

The interview story did not reference the news that a secong person was brutally raped. Since the N&O had reviewed the public reports for the story, a reasonable question that could be asked is why there was no record of that secong rape in the police report? If, in fact, a second rape had occurred, wouldn't that be headline news?

Why were there no pictures of the crime scene by the N&O? Crime scene photos are very much public information.

How about Shelton's initial encounter with the dancer. Was that in the public record? Did N&O think that his report was not worthwhile to investigate before running the story of the "victim"?

You get the idea.

Ken
Dallas

Anonymous said...

I think that boy has been to the Melanie Sill Skool for Stupid Editors Who Think They is Smarter Then There Reeders.

What a pathetic bureaucrat. I wonder if he used to have moral scruples and ideals back when he was young.

sic semper tyrannis

Anonymous said...

John - I think this is simple. The Newsobserver is trying to steal customers away from the Wilmington Journal. They need to write for their target readership.