Sunday, May 18, 2008

What about the Raleigh N&O’s Duke Lax framing?

In response to Duke Lax '06 Cancellation: What Safety Concerns?(Post 2) an Anon commenter asked:

Does anyone know the behind-the-scenes story at the N&O? How did the Khanna-Blythe story on the "victim" come about? How did the defamatory poster of the lacrosse players end up in the paper? Why hasn't the newspaper apologized for its performance?
I’ll respond to those questions on a first-pass basis and without linking to sources. If I’m wrong on any fact and you point it out, I’ll move your correction to the main page and thank you.

Now here goes - - -

Does anyone know the behind-the-scenes story at the N&O?

That question is imprecise, tantalizing and very important.

Imprecise – Do you mean, thoughtful Anon, the N&O’s behind-the-scenes decision to seven times in its first “Duke lacrosse “ story tell readers the false accuser was “the victim” or to refer to her with the possessive “victim’s,” while never once using “alleged?”

Or do you mean the N&O’s behind-the-scenes decision to deliberately withhold from readers news it had of the players’ cooperation with police; and instead tell them the lie that the players weren’t cooperating with police?

Or perhaps you mean the N&O’s publishing on Mar. 25, 2006 what it knew was Crystal Mangum’s false claim that she was new to “dancing” before men?

There are many "behind-the-scenes" questions concerning its lacrosse case framing the N&O won't answer.

Anon, please be more specific as to what you mean and I'll try to get public editor Ted Vaden to answer your question.

The same goes for other JinC readers' questions.

How did the Khanna-Blythe story on the "victim" come about?

I think you’re referring to the N&O’s Mar. 25, 2006 story it said was about a woman’s “ordeal” which ended in”sexual violence.”

That N&O story laid out the script for the trashing and threatening of the entire lacrosse team and the framing of three of its white members for multiple felonies, including gang rape.

The question most often asked about that story is how did the N&O get the interview with Crystal Mangum. It's the only published press interview she's participated in since she first made her false accusations.

The N&O has been deliberately vague and misleading concerning how it got the interview.

For example, months after it took place, then executive editor for news Melanie Sill told skeptical readers at the Editors' Blog the interview was secured as a result of “boots on the ground.”

That's not an answer; it's a dodge.

So questions about how the N&O got to Mangum remain unanswered by the newspaper that's written hundreds of stories on the case.

You have to ask yourself why the N&O hasn't reported on something so important and about which it already has "the news."

How did the defamatory poster of the lacrosse players end up in the paper?

You're talking about the Vigilante poster which the N&O published Apr. 2, 2006.

Sill, again at the Editors' Blog, said months later that N&O staffers took a copy of the anonymously produced poster off the windshield of a car.

As for why the N&O published the poster bearing the face-photos of 43 white members of the Duke lacrosse team after the university had expressed concerns that doing so would add to the danger the players were already facing, Sill initially said it was to give readers a sense of what was happening in Duke and Durham.

But as criticism of the N&O's decision to publish the Vigilante poster photo grew, Sill offered readers a nebulous "we didn't have the conversation we should have had"

Neither Sill nor anyone else at the N&O has ever said publicly what the substance of "the conversation we should have had" would have been.

The N&O has refused to tell readers the substance of the conversations editors did have concerning the photo's publication which occurred just weeks after the N&O announced its editors didn't see a need to publish any photos of the Danish cartoons which had angered many Muslims.

Why hasn't the newspaper apologized for its performance?

Sill, John Drescher, who was managing editor at the time the news broke of what we later learned was a frame-up attempt and is now executive editor for news, and public editor Ted Vaden agree the N&O made "a few mistakes" during the first few days of its coverage. They blame lack of cooperation by the players, their families and attorneys, and deadlines for anything the N&O got wrong.

Those "few mistakes" aside, the N&O tells readers it's very proud of its Duke lacrosse coverage.

If we get discovery in the civil rights violations suits brought by most of the principal victims of the travesties and crimes which grew from Mangum's lies, we'll undoubtedly learn more about what the N&O did and didn't do.

I doubt there'll be much that will give decent journalists cause for pride.

Thank you for commenting.


Anonymous said...

The answer to all those questions is LINDA WILLIAMS.
Assisted by former editor Sill with the blessing of publisher Quarles.
They all loved it and Tim Tyson is still spewing like he did back then.

Danvers said...

Hi John,

Your question: Why hasn't the newspaper [N&O]apologized for its performance? is an excellent one, but don't hold your breath waiting for a response! I sent the e-mail below to Mel Sill in April - a message came back: Deleted without being read.

///From "Danvers"

11 April 2008 09:54 AM

Duke Lacrosse Case - Herald Sun Editor Admits they got it Wrong

Dear Ms Sill,

In an address to the University of Kentucky, Herald Sun Editor Bob Ashley finally admitted that the HS got its reporting on the Duke Lacrosse Case wrong.

Among other admissions, Ashley stated:

- "We were, honestly, too slow to recognize that there was no case at all,"
- the case was "a frenzy unequalled by anything I've seen in 37 years of journalism,"
- 'Paxton Media Group newspaper lacked the resources to compete with larger media outlets'.
- "Hindsight is a wonderful thing. In hindsight, should we have come to that conclusion sooner? Yes."

The N&O's reporting was equally as inflammatory as that of the HS, and probably more infamous!
Who will ever forget Ruth (you know, we know you know) Sheehan's career destroying article, which was first(and in my opinion - worst) among many other articles that were travesties of journalistic ethics. And in case you were wondering, I do not believe 'journalistic ethics' is an oxymoron. Your former paper was, and remains just as guilty as the HS for inciting the mob mentality of Durham residents, and for the aftermath that followed. But then perhaps that was the subliminal intent?

Ms Sill, Bob Ashley has admitted his newspaper's failings. When are you, as the former Managing Editor of the Raleigh New and Observer, going to do the same?


South Africa ///

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if these questions have been put to the various members of the McClatchy Company's Board of Directors, or to members of the McClatchy family who still have a role in the company? Perhaps the board members would be interested.

Anonymous said...

Re: "the N&O’s behind-the-scenes decision to deliberately withhold from readers news it had of the players’ cooperation with police; and instead tell them the lie that the players weren’t cooperating with police" -- can you refer me to the source material for these two points? I know a N&O reporter I'd like to ask about this. Thanks.
My theory about the reporters losing the word "alleged" in describing the "victim" is that they were assured, off the record, that the crime had happened, by the D.A. and by Burness et al, and they couldn't imagine both parties lying to them...