Friday, August 10, 2007

N&O & That Bathroom

Regular visitors know I’ve asked news organizations and individual journalists to provide us news reports with pictures or videotapes of the bathroom that Crystal Mangum claimed was the place where she struggled to fight off three Duke lacrosse players who brutally beat, strangled and gang-raped her for thirty minutes.
I’ve explained here why it’s important that happen.

What follows is my latest effort to persuade a news executive to make it happen.


Melanie Sill, Executive Editor for News
The Raleigh News & Observer

Dear Melanie:

In your April 9, 2006 Sunday column you said:

“District Attorney Mike Nifong, the only person who can explain his office's decisions on the case, cut off interviews early last week, blaming an overload of requests.

That's not just a problem for reporters. It's keeping information away from people who live in this community.

Fortunately, Duke and Durham aren't territory that can be cordoned off. Some faculty, students and community members have spoken for themselves.

Journalism's purpose is to inform communities about important issues. The Duke story matters here, to Durham and the greater Triangle.
It also matters to Duke's alumni nationally and others concerned about college behavior, race and class.

I was relieved, Melanie, when DA Nifong’s cut off interviews, but otherwise I agree with everything else you say.

Regarding “keeping information away from people,” why did the N&O decide not to publish any photos of the bathroom which Crystal Mangum claimed was the scene of her brutal thirty minute beating and gang-rape by three white Duke students?

On April 2 the N&O published the face photos and names of 43 of the 46 white members of the Duke lacrosse team after Duke said it had removed those photos from because of fears for the players’ safety.

The N&O also published a photo of the Duke students entering the Durham Police building for DNA testing. They were walking single file and had covered their heads with sweaters and jackets upon advice of adults who, like Duke, feared for their safety once they were photo ID’ed by certain people and groups.

N&O reporter Joe Neff has says the photo reminded him of a Mafia perp walk. Many people had the same reaction.

The N&O obviously believed both photos contained “information” it didn’t want to keep “away from people who live in this community.”

But you’ve never published a photo of the bathroom in which the woman you said was “the victim” claimed she she was brutally beaten, strangled and gang-raped by three white male Duke students for thirty minutes.

Why not?

The N&O regularly publishes photos of alleged and actual crime scenes. I’ve heard both police and crime victims complain that your photographers have sometimes entered victims’ private homes without permission to photograph a crime scene.

Surely a photo, preferably one showing four adults in the bathroom if it’s possible for them to all squeeze in at the same time, would provide information that shouldn’t be kept “away from people who live in this community,” and which you should have provided us with last March.

The N&O’s failure to date to publish a single informative photo of that bathroom leads any reasonable person to wonder just why you don’t want N&O readers to see it.


John in Carolina


Anonymous said...


Perhaps some of the bloggers who comment here can provide some investigative effort. (Or, perhaps, a member of the defense team.)

Does anyone have the dimensions of the bathroom?


Anonymous said...

As I recall, AG Cooper measured the bathroom personally. Is there no public record?

Anonymous said...

Ordinarily, the MSM falls over itself looking at things like "the scene of the crime." Why not in this case? Simple. If any thinking person sees how miniscule that bathroom is, they must conclude that the stories told by "Precious" have to be pure bulls**t. Don't expect Melanie to respond with anything substantial.

Anonymous said...

Has editor Sill ever apologized for the March 2006 coverage that some believe helped Nifong frame the lacrosse players? And has she apologized to the unindicted lacrosse players for the N&O's publication of the libelous poster?

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting over a year to see the bathroom. Is anyone eer going to show it?