Monday, August 07, 2006

Punishment and crime

This is a correction to a News & Observer story featured on on Sunday:

This report on the Durham lacrosse case Sunday contained an error involving the timing of a discussion between District Attorney Mike Nifong and Investigator Michelle Soucie.
On April 4, Nifong instructed Soucie to nail down what the accuser in the case had done on the day prior to the alleged rape. That was nearly two weeks before the first two indictments in the case.

This error changes the implication of the first five paragraphs of the story: that the conversation between Nifong and Soucie was an example of the words and actions of police and prosecutors outpacing the facts in the file.

I'll go along with that. The story has the investigator trying to close the gaps after the indictments had been handed up. "Changes the implication" is, to put it politely, an understatement.

The error does not affect the accuracy of the remainder of the story, which reported gaps between the prosecution's words and its evidence.

Hope so. Meanwhile, in light of the paper's recent firing of a photographer who "inappropriately altered" the color in a metro front photo, thus violating one of "our most sacred journalistic values," could y'all provide some insight on what sorts of offenses bring on the death penalty these days?

Understand, I'm not calling for more firings; if anything, the pendulum seems to have gone too far toward the Inquisition side. I haven't seen anything yet that convinced me the cooked photo was a hanging offense, and news organizations need to distinguish between an overeager burn-in and the sort of doctoring Reuter is now scrambling to remove. But this story looks like a pretty serious affront to those sacred journalistic values. How about an outline of the ground rules?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sanctimonious tone of the Observer correx is what set my teeth on edge. Otherwise, it was the guy's second offense so that probably tilted the judgement against him.

As for the N&O, we can only assume the writer is someone's special pet and therefore immune to discipline.

7:52 AM, August 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was fired because it was the second offense. He broke the rule once and was suspended and warned not to do it again, and he did it again.

1:36 PM, August 08, 2006  

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