Enquirer Newsroom Source Cited In Chiquita Lawsuit p.8

By: david noack In its lawsuit against fired Enquirer investigative reporter Mike Gallagher,
Chiquita presents the court with a report from inside the Enquirer newsroom

IN A LAWSUIT filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Chiquita Brands has included a copy of an anonymous letter from a source inside the Cincinnati Enquirer newsroom highly critical of that newspaper's Chiquita story.
The lawsuit is against Mike Gallagher, the fired lead reporter of the Enquirer's controversial Chiquita stories project.
Two weeks ago, the Enquirer printed front-page retractions of its 18-page investigative report of Chiquita and announced it was paying the international banana company more than $10 million as part of an unusual agreement whose details remain a mystery.
Enquirer employees are under orders not to discuss any aspect of the journalistic debacle with the outside world.
However, as part of a 47-page suit against former investigative reporter Gallagher, Chiquita included a letter written on Enquirer stationery by someone who purports to provide intimate details of how the Chiquita story was handled ? or mishandled ? by editors, including Enquirer editor Larry Beaupre.
The anonymous letter, which starts "Dear Willie," was originally sent to Bill Cunningham, a WLW radio talk show host who read it over the air.
"This should have never happened," the letter said. "This newspaper has myriad checks and balances to prevent just such an occurrence. But in his zeal to win a coveted Pulitzer Prize, Larry Beaupre bypassed all of those checks and balances and rushed the Chiquita series to print."
For the second week in a row, Beaupre failed to respond to E&P's request for comments about the Chiquita incident. Publisher Harry M. Whipple on Thursday said that due to ongoing investigations he could not comment.
Earlier, Whipple told the newsroom staff that the newspaper's editors were the victims of a "massive deception" masterminded by Gallagher.

'I am a newsroom editor'
However, the anonymous letter, penned by a self-described "newsroom editor," says the stories included "sloppy writing, reporting and news-gathering techniques" and were kept from editors who might have raised important questions about the project's veracity.
The letter describes how stories typically go through editing steps, from an assistant editor, copy editor, copy desk chief and, for Page One stories, an editor in charge of that page, and up to the managing editor and even executive editor.
"Chiquita, however, was kept secret until the presses were ready to roll. Copy editors were not allowed to read it and ask hard questions or challenge its premise, which is what they're paid to do. . . . Even the Page 1 (News Editor) was not allowed to read it," says the letter.
The letter says that on the night the series went to press, "copy editors throughout the newsroom were expressing dismay at the reliance on stolen voice-mail tapes. We asked each other questions that we would have posed to Larry HAD WE BEEN ALLOWED TO DO
OUR JOBS" (emphasis in the original).
The letter alleges that Beaupre "didn't WANT anyone to challenge Mike's work" and ends with the request: "Please be careful with this. This is very risky, but we can't stay silent."

Wall of silence
With local and national law enforcement agencies investigating allegations of theft of voice-mail files, the newspaper has been largely silent, beyond its initial Page 1 apology June 28. Various law enforcement officials and lawyers involved in criminal and civil aspects of the case have also declined to comment.
The Chiquita lawsuit charges Gallagher with defamation, trespass, illegal wiretapping and intentional misconduct. Gallagher was not part of the agreement between Chiquita and the Enquirer. He has retained his own counsel and has declined to comment on allegations against him from the Enquirer and Chiquita.
In the latest twist, Gallagher is fighting a subpoena to appear before a grand jury. Special county prosecutor Perry L. Ancona is investigating whether property, including confidential voice-mail messages, was stolen from Chiquita. The company alleges that Gallagher used the voice mail system to produce the stories published by the Enquirer on May 3.
The Associated Press reported that Gallagher repeatedly declined to comment in court.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Post, in a Page One story July 4 by Barry H. Horstman and Cliff Peale, pieced together the chain of events following the bombshell news that the newspaper was renouncing its series because Gallagher allegedly pilfered Chiquita voice-mail messages.
The Post, story also reported on the mood and frustration within the Enquirer newsroom.
The Post reported that Enquirer staffers are "disturbed that their bosses have not been more forthcoming with them. In staff meetings, tough questions about precisely how the disaster occurred, they say, typically produce little more than reiterations of the claim that Gallagher thoroughly deceived his superiors. Reporters who press for more details have been cut off with abrupt suggestions that they re-read the public statement."
Since the Enquirer retracted the entire Chiquita report, readers and journalists alike have been left to wonder what was or wasn't accurate.

Chiquita Went Directly to Gannett
The Post also reported that after the special section ran on May 3, Chiquita took its complaints directly to Gannett corporate officials.
"We'd been negotiating with the Enquirer for a year, so what good would that have done?" Steven Warshaw, the president of Chiquita, told the Post.
While the Enquirer and Gallagher have taken a beating over the controversy, a column by Yale University journalism professor Bruce Shapiro in the online magazine Salon, says the press has failed to follow up on the allegations about Chiquita's business practices.
"Not a single major story on Gallagher's firing has bothered to examine the paper's original allegations about Chiquita," Shapiro said. He went on on to list allegations that seemed to be based on documents and interviews.
"Amid all of these serious charges of law breaking and exploitation on a transnational scale, it is Mike Gallagher ? fired, sued and awaiting a grand jury subpoena ? who is being written about as a criminal," writes Shapiro.
?(A letter to Chiquita far right) from an Enquirer journalist says stories by former reporter Mike Gallagher, above, were not subjected to normal editing) [Caption]
?( Editor & Publisher Web Site: http://www.mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(copyrigh: Editor & Publisher July 11, 1998) [Caption]


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