AP denies 'spiking' story to protect newspaper industry p.8

By: David Noack The Associated Press denies it killed a story about the newspaper industry's efforts to deny workers' compensation coverage to news carriers, contending the article is being held for additional reporting.
The allegations aimed at the newspaper cooperative were reported in the March 1 issue of Corporate Crime Reporter, a Washington, D.C.-based weekly legal newsletter.
The headline reads: "Associated Press Kills Story on Newspaper Carriers and Workers' Compensation. What's Black and White and Red All Over?" The article was based on an interview with Marc Linder, a University of Iowa law professor who had written a law review article on this issue.
Tori Smith, an AP spokesperson, denies that the story was spiked. She says there was a "miscommunication" between the reporter working on the story, Maggie Jackson, and her editors. Jackson declined to comment on the matter.
Smith says that while Jackson was under the impression the story was spiked, that was not the case.
"I think there is a miscommunication here, and Maggie did tell the professor that it was spiked. That was her understanding. But it was a miscommunication, an editor/writer miscommunication on this end. I think we are looking at this story and looking to broaden it and add some context." Smith says she doesn't know when the expanded story would be finished.
Interest in the story was sparked by Linder, who penned a law review article last year that appeared in the Loyola Poverty Law Journal called "What is Black and White and Red All Over? ? or, How Publishers Exclude Newscarriers from Workers' Compensation."
Linder argues that newspaper publishers have campaigned to exclude news carriers from workers' compensation. He also accuses newspapers of not reporting this issue. He was trying to pitch the story to reporters, using his research in the law review piece as the basis for the story.
He sent the law review piece to 20 reporters and columnists, many of whom he had dealt with on other labor-related stories. Some of the papers he contacted included The Des Moines Register, Houston Chronicle, USA Today, and the Iowa City Press-Telegram.
"All I can tell you is everything that has happened since I sent this article out to various reporters confirmed the view that I formed while doing the research. The only reason the newspaper publishers can get away with this outrage is because they are in the unique position of not reporting on it," asserts Linder, a labor lawyer who has represented migrant farm workers.
Jennifer Cronin, a former reporter at the Press-Telegram, says she pitched the story to a former assignment editor, and there was no interest in pursuing the story.
"We've always covered his previous studies in the past and to my knowledge, while I was there. This was the only one we didn't do anything on," says Cronin, who left the paper last October and now helps handle public affairs at the University of Iowa.
Des Moines Register columnist Rehka Basu also received the story idea but did not write a column about it. She denied there was any pressure not to write about the issue.
"It never went beyond me. It was never anything I proposed to any of my editors, so there was no opportunity to shut it down at that level. I just felt, in most of the columns that I do, there has to be some timely news angle to it and I couldn't find anything like that that was linked to the issue," says Basu.
Linder says he was informed by Jackson, the AP reporter, that the story was spiked.
"At some point [she] told me the article was not going to be published ? that AP had 'spiked' the article and I assume spiked meant killed," says Linder.
Corporate Crime Reporter editor Russell Mokhiber says he called Jackson and told her he was working on a story about the allegation. When asked about the story, he says she blurted out, "'They spiked it.'"
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http:www.mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(Copyright: Editor & Publisher March 6, 1999) [Caption]


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