2 Journos Fired for Drinking With Subjects of Beer-Pong Story

By: E&P Staff When reporter Craig McCool and photographer Mairin Chapman of The Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette went to a local party to research a series on drinking among young adults, they saw nothing wrong with partaking of the libations themselves.

But editors did. The result: The two were dismissed, and the paper ran an editor's note this weekend explaining the incident.

"Their conduct is unacceptable and violates the standards that we uphold every day as journalists," Editor Rebecca Pierce said in the note, published Saturday. "We don't condone it and we can't ignore it."

Pierce, who could not be reached for comment Monday, seemed to indicate that the pair's transgression took on more severity because it involved their reporting on how heavy alcohol consumption can be dangerous. "It's a sad statement to our readers that our behavior in any way would obscure this serious and pervasive problem in our community," the editor added in the note.

McCool and Chapman had attended the party to observe a drinking game called "beer-pong," the editor's note said. That story was among several published in a three-day series on the issue, which ended April 19.

The paper revealed that the reporter and photographer did not reveal their alcohol consumption until after the story ran. Editors also indicated that they were misled to believe that the beer-pong story occurred during one night, when it actually involved events over two nights.

"The misconduct of the two staff members led the paper to conduct staff-wide discussions about ethics," the note said. "Further sessions are planned."

McCool and Chapman could not be reached for comment and messages left for them through editors have not been returned.

The paper quoted McCool as apologizing for his actions. "I as a reporter need to be held accountable," he told editors. "The people in this organization work hard not only to keep the community informed, but to gather and dispense the news in a reputable and ethical manner. While reporting for the story in question, I forgot those ideals."


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