Boston Police Hope To Torpedo Globe Pulitzer p.8

By: mark fitzgerald Quoting confidential, internal Globe documents, they write the prize committee

The Boston Globe has its very own Deep Throat ? but this confidential source is ratting out the newspaper. Someone inside the Globe newsroom leaked a copy of the newspaper's Pulitzer Prize entry to the Boston Police Department, which used the information to write an eight-page letter to the Pulitzer board attacking the Globe series on police corruption ? and accuse the paper of breaking the contest's rules.
At first, the Globe saw other sinister parallels with Watergate. "This sounds more like Watergate plumbers than the Boston Police Department," editor Matthew V. Storin told the Globe in its first story about the purloined papers.
That comment incensed Boston police even more.
"Give me a break ? it's harder to get into their building than it is to get in here," Sgt. Det. Margot Hill, director of media relations for the Boston Police Department, said in a telephone interview.
"It's called leaks," she added. "There's a leak in their organization. That tells me somebody there didn't like what they were doing and so they sent it to me."

Plain, brown envelope
Hill said the entry, stuffed in a plain envelope, just showed up in her mail Feb. 6 ? five days after the application deadline for the newspaper Pulitzers.
"I wasn't looking for the thing," she said. "I
didn't know what it was when I got it, although it didn't take long to figure out."
Storin now says that it was Hill who led him to conclude that a black bag job might have been behind the delivery of the Pulitzer entry to the cops. "She indicated, with some degree of pride, that [the Boston police] had 'friends' in the newsroom. So it made it appear to be, shall we say, a team effort. Later she said it came in a plain envelope," Storin said.
Speaking a couple days after the incident came to light, Storin said he was "not into" criticizing the police because "they have more important things to do?and so do we."
Nevertheless, he said he had two concerns: "Obviously, we're concerned someone in our shop is cooperating with them. And second, a law enforcement agency intercepting private correspondence is kind of bizarre."
This latest spat is a fitting coda to a year of contention between the Globe and Boston Police over the series nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Beginning in February 1997, the Globe periodically ran articles documenting what it said was extensive police misconduct ranging from the theft of guns and drug money to perjury and extortion. Partly because of the series, two police officers have been indicted on federal charges of theft, perjury and extortion.
How the entry ended up in police hands remains a mystery.

Globe's internal
"We've done a little checking around. Somebody who sets out to find something and Xerox it can do it pretty easily," Storin said. "But there is only one [copy of the] entry and it was not handled by more than a handful of people."
But back at the cop shop, Sgt. Det. Hill argues that all the media focus on how the Pulitzer entry got into police hands is distracting attention away from her main contention: That the Boston Globe broke the rules in its entry for journalism's highest award.
She says the leaked Pulitzer entry shows the paper's application was incomplete because it did not include two letters to the editor from police commissioner Paul Evans and Ann Marie Doherty, the former head of the police Internal Investigations Bureau.
Pulitzer regulations state that "any significant challenges to the accuracy or fairness of an entry, such as published letters, corrections or retractions as well as responses by the newspaper should be included in the submission."
"They don't say 'may' be included ? they say 'should,'" said Hill, who said she looked up the Pulitzer regulations on the Internet. "We are an organization that lives and dies by the rules, and they are always trying to catch us [breaking] rules. Well, who watches the watchdogs?"
But for the Globe's Storin, the key word in the Pulitzer rules is "significant" ? and he argues Boston Police have not come up with any significant rebuttal to the series.
"There has not been a single fact challenged, either in the letters to editor . . . or in the eight-page letter," Storin said. "This was excellent reporting."
Boston police say the series ignored anti-corruption reforms it implemented on its own?and that the Globe Pulitzer application is taking credit for changes already underway when the series was being published.
"Personally, I don't feel it was Pulitzer material," Police spokeswoman Hill said. "I consider the Pulitzer Prize the highest honor in journalism, and stories should be deserving of that high honor. I don't see that that was the case in this instance."
Pulitzer board administrator Seymour Topping said complaints about entries are not unusual. "Each year we have one or two cases in which people anticipate that a critical article will be submitted and they write to us about it," he said.
Letters and demands for corrections submitted by the newspapers, are included in the so-called "supplementary material" in an envelope in the back of a Pulitzer application portfolio. About 1,500 entries are received every year for the newspaper Pulitzers, which will be announced April 14.
Days after the Globe's confidential Pulitzer entry came to light, it remained a popular topic on Boston radio and TV talk shows. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, for one, called the police department's actions "inappropriate."
But police spokeswoman Hill sees the department as the underdogs in this story.
"The Boston Globe, they're the ones with all the ink and paper, they're the ones with all the power, and they're the ones who have got all their journalist pals defending them," Hill said. "But there is someone in that organization that still believes in fairness, that still believes in the self-correcting mechanism that journalism should apply, and that gives me great hope for the future."
?("This sounds more like Watergate plumbers than the Boston Police
Department.") [Caption]
?(? Matthew V. Storin, editor, Boston Globe) [Photo & Caption]

?(E&P Web Site:
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher February 28, 1998)


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