Tuesday, October 30, 2007

N&O Ignores Suggestion, Questions


You may remember the post below from Oct.10. By way of update, no one at the N&O has responded to the questions I asked.


In a recent Sunday column, Raleigh News & Observer Executive Editor for News Melanie Sill asked readers to suggest how the N&O could better serve them. Here’s part of what Sill said:

Suggestions help serve our community in all kinds of ways, from major coverage themes to useful information. Keep 'em coming.
Sill's question isn't really a tough one, is it?

I’ve just left the following comment on the thread of Sill’s column posted at the Editors' Blog.


Dear Melanie,

I suggest N&O editors at the Editors’ Blog answer readers’ questions.

Here’s a copy of a comment with questions I asked Deputy Managing Editor Linda Williams which she’s never answered. Following my comment and questions to Editor Williams, I say a few more things to you.


Dear Editor Williams:

Historian and blogger KC Johnson, co-author of Until Proven Innocent has said this about Columnist Barry Saunders:


"The reaction from some quarters [to impending civil suits against Durham] was predictable.

The N&O’s Barry Saunders penned a race-baiting column falsely asserting that Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty had “hired themselves a stripper.” This false claim, and Saunders’ other taunts, only bolstered the falsely accused students’ case against Durham, by showing the continuing harm to their reputations—something Saunders might have wanted to consider before he wrote.

And Saunders, hyper-sensitive to the slightest of perceived slights against African-Americans, appeared to be unconcerned with his own perceived slight against the religion of the falsely accused players.

But, of course, this is the same Barry Saunders who previously eviscerated media coverage of a gang-rape allegation—when the defendants were black NCCU students. Their accuser (whom Saunders mocked) didn’t show up for a probable cause hearing, prompting dismissal of charges.

But the mere filing of charges, according to Saunders, caused long-term damage to the students’ reputation: ‘I saw the two dudes’ pictures in the paper. I’m not saying they looked guilty, but let’s face it. It’s hard to look innocent when your mug shot is splashed on television or in the paper in connection with some horrific story.’ (To remind Saunders, the mugshots of Seligmann and Finnerty were “splashed”—over and over and over again—on national television and on the cover of Newsweek.)”

(end of Johnson blog quote)

I'm sure you know, Editor Williams, that Executive Editor for News Melanie Sill says Saunders meets N&O standards.

And I don't know anyone who disputes that he does.

But what many people are asking is why a race-baiter like Saunders “meets N&O standards?”

Just a few years ago the N&O made what it said was a sincere apology for its long history of race-baiting. The N&O promised readers it would no longer race-bait.

But soon after that, the N&O launched its deliberately false, racially-inflammatory Duke lacrosse coverage.

By withholding relevant news and promoting the lie that white lacrosse players hadn’t cooperated with police, the N&O helped bring about the indictments of three innocent white men.

But the N&O knew the white men had cooperated with police.

I don’t believe you would have promoted the falsehood that the players hadn’t cooperated with police if they’d been black men instead of white men.

I’m not wrong about that, am I?

The N&O withheld for over a year the exculpatory news that Mangum told you on March 24, 2006 that Kim Roberts had also been raped at the party, but didn’t report it for fear of losing her job. You also withheld the news that Mangum said Roberts would do anything for money.

You wouldn’t have withheld such critically important news for over a year if Mangum had been a white woman and David Evans, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann had been black men indicted by a white DA like Mike Nifong using grand jury testimony by two white cops like Benjamin Himan and Mark Gottlieb, would you?

After Duke University expressed concerns that publishing the “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 white Duke students on it would add to the danger those students were already facing, the N&O published the poster anyway. The N&O didn’t even tell readers what Duke had said.

If, in similar circumstances, NC Central University expressed concerns that publishing an anonymous “Vigilante” poster with face photos of 43 of its black students the DA and cops were saying were involved in the brutal beating and gang rape of a young white mother who was a student at Duke, would you have gone ahead and published the poster anyway?

I think the answer is obvious. Of course not. The N&O would never do something like that to a group of black males. Even your worst critics don’t believe you’d do such a thing to a group of black men.

But suppose you had.

And suppose people like Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Community Activist Victoria Peterson, Professors Houston Baker, William Chafe, Karla Holloway, Irving Joyner and Tim Tyson. Mayor Bill Bell, Journalist Cash Michaels and NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber reacted to what you did.

Imagine they issued a statement denouncing the N&O for doing something which “reeked of racism every bit as ugly and dangerous as the racism often found in Southern newspapers in the last century.”

What would you have said in response?

What if those people – all of whom often proclaimed their commitment to civil rights – demanded the N&O apologize to the players, their families and the community and fire the people responsible for publishing the racist “Vigilante” poster?

What would you have told your fellow N&O editors they should do?

Who were the N&O journalists who decided to publish the “Vigilante” poster? Do any of them still work for the paper? If any do, what does that tell the community about the N&O?

I know what my answer is but I’d like to hear yours first.

Editor Williams, I hope you don’t have any problem agreeing with this: At the N&O, race still matters.

I also hope you agree with this: Whites have been too passive in accepting “back of the bus” treatment from the N&O. We should demand the N&O once-and-for-all stop playing one race against another and treat people of all races fairly.

Thank you for your attention to my comment. I look forward to your response.


John in Carolina


A veteran MSM news editor like yourself, Melanie, knows I’ve asked Williams very important questions which are on the minds of many N&O readers.

For more than 18 months, readers have been asking when did the N&O learn of the extraordinary cooperation the players provided police; why was there no mention of the players’ cooperation in your March 25 story; and when and in what detail did the N&O finally report the players’ cooperation?

More recently, informed readers have asked why the N&O withheld for thirteen months critically important news exculpatory for the indicted players? I'm talking about what Crystal Mangum told you on March 24, 2006: that Kim Roberts had also been raped at the party but hadn't reported it for fear of losing her job.

Whose interests were served by the withholding of that news?

And then there are all the questions growing out of Ruth Sheehan’s admission that Nifong served as an anonymous source for her March 27 column, “Teams Silence Is Sickening.”

I hope you and the other editors will accept my suggestion and start answering questions. Even Public Editor Ted Vaden thinks you ought to answer them.

I look forward to an honest and substantive response instead of either the usual name-calling or silence.

Thank you for your attention to this comment.


John in Carolina

PS – Did Joe Neff ever retract the false statements he made May 22, 2007 at the National Press Club?


Anonymous said...

For Miss Cline to say she was not a part of the hoax is another bold faced lie from the cast of deviants in Durham. Does she expect us to swallow her cud of further deception? Numerous high ranking officials in Washington monitor these sites daily. You have to ask yourself, why? The answer is crystal clear. The "Powers That Be" do NOT want to become involved in any Federal Investigation. They most definitely fear the exposure of the corruption and abuses in office. Again I ask the media and readers to dig deeper into Durham's notorious past. From the prostitution ring being run from the DPD in the 90's to the most recent SBI "sting" into the La Zona, owned by a deputy sheriff. Reported and caught on tape admitting to murders for hire, trafficking women and children for prostitution, massive cocaine distribution, counterfeiting, and God only knows what else. 3 of these men were all deputies, one even the HEAD of the Gang Unit, and author. What has become of the people mentioned on the "hit" list? Were they ever even told they had even been mentioned? What happened to the poor innocent souls entrapped into sexual slavery, have they been rescued? Then too about the drugs, and other crimes committed by Durham's finest in Law Enforcement, does "ANYBODY" care?!

Has Miss Cline, or "ANYBODY" ever acknowledged these crimes against humanity, and put forth any effort to take action? The sheriff and his own spokespersons have been quoted as saying these "officers" were the BEST, and did not have enough evidence to bring further charges? Yet, they were more than willing to allow 3 innocent men go to prison for a crime they KNEW they did not do, all for political gain? Where is the outrage?! Murders go unsolved, drug abuses escalate, and all of these government entities are fully aware of these most nefarious deeds and fail to not only acknowledge them, but further conspire to hide these crimes to ensure they never see the light of day.

I personally beseech my request for citizens, legislators, journalists, and the Department Of Justice to take action! The LAX3 Hoax is but the tip of the iceberg. This is much larger then one man, (Nifong) and long past due to be addressed. Saying "I did not know" is not an excuse. Pleading ignorance proves just that, ignorance! Deeper issues beg for resolution, along with my own personal quest to find JUSTICE for my dearest brother, whose murder in Durham in 2005 remains unresolved. I DEMAND accountability, and will continue to fight until there is a roar so loud, "THEY" will have no choice than to open their eyes and ears and realize WE will not tolerate the denial any longer!

Rhonda Fleming
Cleveland, Ohio

Anonymous said...

Ms. Sill asked what could be done to improve the N& O? Well, I guess she got her answer. She is moving away!

Unfortunately, there are others like her who are staying :(