Wednesday, November 26, 2008

N&O finally reports Gattis Street rape suspect’s latest arrest

On Nov. 17 Michael Burch was arrested and charged with rape and other crimes. His bail was set at $1.85 million.

At the time of his arrest, Burch was free on $50 thousand bail awaiting trial on charges growing out of a reported rape on Feb. 11, 2007 at a fraternity party near Duke’s East Campus. The alleged victim was a Duke freshman at the time. She’s since transferred to another school.

The Raleigh News & Observer did not initially report on Burch’s Nov. 17 arrest even after receiving phone calls from area residents.

This Monday, Nov. 24, Duke’s student newspaper, The Chronicle, published a lengthy story on Burch’s most recent arrest. (See here)

The following day the N&O finally reported on the story.

Here’s the N&O story in its entirety, followed by my comments below the star line.

Beneath the lede - "Out on bail, man charged with rape" – the N&O’s story began - - -

A man who was out on bail awaiting trial for second-degree rape was arrested again this month and charged with second-degree rape again.

Michael Jermaine Burch, 23, of 1903 Cherrycrest Drive, Apt. B, was arrested during a traffic stop on Nov. 17, according to police reports. In addition to the rape charge, Burch was accused of first-degree sexual offense and aiding and abetting in a felony that police say occurred June 21 in the 1300 block of Cherrycrest Drive.

Burch was awaiting trial for an incident that investigators say happened Feb. 11, 2007. A court hearing on the case is set for January.

In that case, a Duke University freshman told police she was sexually assaulted at an off-campus fraternity party that drew more than 50 people to a rental property on Gattis Street and spilled outside the duplex.

The 18-year-old accuser told investigators she was sexually assaulted about 3 a.m. in a bathroom.

She went to Duke University Hospital afterward, according to police radio reports.

Burch was 21 at the time, and booked into the Durham County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. He was released on bond later that month.

Police have released few details about the arrest this month.

Burch was being held Monday in the Durham County jail with bail set at $1.85 million.



The N&O clearly wanted to ignore this story as long as it could.

When forced to report it, it gave the story as little “play” as possible.

The story’s buried in the “B” section under Triangle Briefs.

The lede is small font.

No reporter was bylined. Attribution was “Staff reports”

Staff reports are often nothing more than rewrites of a press release, public documents and even material “lifted” from other news orgs stories. (I’m sure the N&O would say it never lifts.)

Burch is black; the alleged victim at the Gattis Street fraternity party is white.

The N&O will no doubt say that has nothing to do with its treatment of the story.

I don’t believe that.

The entire Chronicle story's here


Anonymous said...


A very sad story.

As I said previously, the sooner the N&O goes out of existance, the better.


Anonymous said...

Ken: They are well on their way and yes, the sooner the better. They are rearranging deck chairs as we speak.

Anonymous said...

The N&O has a monopoly position in Raleigh. The N&O suffered no obvious consequences for its inflammatory and fundamentally disingenuous coverage of the lacrosse frame-up in March 2006. What makes you think the newspaper is on its way out of existence? Wishful thinking won't make it happen.

Anonymous said...

4:31 - You are correct, wishful thinking will not make it happen, but declining circulation and declining revenues certainly will!! Go to McClatchy watch and briefly peruse the performance of their stock over the last year or so - take a look at where it is now. Read John's post on circulation numbers --- Glub, glub, glub --------

Anonymous said...

It is good to know that fewer and fewer innocent trees are dying to produce the N&O.