Thursday, August 23, 2007

N&O says “lines are open”

The Raleigh News & Observer hosts the Editors’ Blog where five editors – the executive editor for news, the managing editor, and three deputy managing editors – all blog.

Doesn't that sound like a blog where you’d see lots of commnets?

When seeking ads, the N&O claims it reaches a half-million readers with its Sunday editon.

But the EB has a problem.

Executive editor Melanie Sill explained in the following August 15 post:

Attention Editor's Blog readers: The lines are open

This blog is about two years old now. We are looking at its effectiveness, as we assess everything we do from time to time, and are interested in any suggestions or comments. As with most blogs, the number of readers is many times larger than the number of people who post comments.

The blog was most active (and most visited) during the Duke lacrosse case coverage. Before that, a flap over radio station Air America probably provided the most comments, though that situation seemed odd given the lack of any real connection between N&O coverage and the liberal radio station.

The blog gives us a way to address coverage issues and mistakes right away.

What's missing, or what do you like?

Post below so other readers can share the dialogue, or if you prefer email me or John Drescher directly at the links to the right.


I’ve just left the following comment on Sill's post thread.

Dear Melanie:

I didn’t respond before now because I wanted to give others a chance to have their say first.

Since more than a week has gone by with no one responding, I’ll go ahead and say a few things while we wait for the others.

First, why do you think so few people comment here?

No doubt you and the other four editors have discussed the question. What did you tell yourselves?

If you’ll post your answers, I bet you’ll get some dialogue going.

Now as to: “What’s missing, or what do you like?”

Well, missing from the N&O’s 3/24/06 story which “broke” the Duke lacrosse case was any mention of the extensive cooperation the players provided police.

The N&O also withheld information about the players’ cooperation from your 3/25/06 “anonymous interview” story which you told readers was about a night which ended in “sexual violence.”

Instead, the N&O promulgated the lie that the players were not cooperating.

What I’d like to have, Melanie, are answers to questions I’ve been asking since last Spring. Many others also want answers to those questions which include:

Why did the N&O say nothing in it’s 3/24 & 25 stories about the players’ cooperation?

Information about the players’ cooperation was out there.

Did all the editors who worked on those stories agree from the get-go that it was OK to say nothing about the players’ cooperation?

In your 3/25 story, why did the N&O promulgate what it knew was the lie that the players’ weren’t cooperating?

On what date and in what detail following your 3/25 story did you first report on the players’ cooperation with police.

Why has it taken you more than a year to answer these questions?

I look forward to your answers.

I’ll end now and give you and others a chance to respond.


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried to contact Mr. Pruitt, the head of the McClatchy newspaper company, about the N&O "coverage" in late March of last year?

Anonymous said...

Sill won't answer your questions because the N&O worked with Nifong to frame those kids.

KC Johnson knows that.

But he promised Sill he won't tell.

Anonymous said...

John: Professor Johnson finally acknowledged Khanna's role in the frame. But he praises Blythe, whose byline accompanied that of Khanna on one of the most infamous N&O stories:

From KC's blog:
Here’s an early April 2006 quote from N&O reporter Samiha Khanna, author of the widely condemned (and almost wholly false) March 25, 2006 “interview” with Crystal Mangum.

"I think Tim Tyson taught readers Sunday about a history not many were aware had occurred. Durham is a place of many new residents, people who may not have the institutional knowledge of the university's history in the community. We are trying to explore these notions as we follow up on the story in the coming weeks. In response to your specific question about Mr. Tyson’s piece—I haven’t seen an equivalent piece in other publications. Many people have spoken out about a history of sex crimes on college campuses, but not issues of race and gender on the Duke campus specifically. These are keys to thorough follow-up stories that we are working to document."

Though it would take a few weeks, the N&O eventually recognized the inappropriateness of Tyson’s analogies for the specific case at hand. By late April, Khanna (and with her, the Tyson line) was basically off the case, and the work of Joe Neff, Ben Niolet, Anne Blythe, Eric Ferreri, and Michael Biesecker moved the paper in a very different direction.

On campus, however, it was full speed ahead for the Tyson/Group of 88 mindset. And Khanna’s quote provides a useful reminder that at a critical juncture in this case, journalists (unfortunately, as it turned out) were treating the guilt-presuming remarks of Duke professors seriously.[End of KC's comments]