'Freep' Says Outsiders Will Review Internal Probe of Albom's Work

By: Andrew Ackerman The Detroit Free Press will appoint a group of outsider experts to review its investigation of columnist and bestselling author Mitch Albom before the paper's report is made public, E&P learned Friday.

"It adds another layer of transparency," John Miller, the Free Press public editor, told E&P Friday at the American Society of Newspaper Editors' annual conference in Washington. "I think another one of the reasons we're doing it is also so we can move more quickly on it."

Miller said he does not yet know who will be reviewing the internal review, but he said the group will be comprised entirely of people from outside the paper, possibly including some non- journalists. An internal inquiry began a week ago, and the outside group might guide the internal inquiry.

"They might say, 'Hey, there's something else we want to look at,' and have the inside panel go back and do more work," Miller said. "So it doesn't necessarily mean [the internal inquiry] will cease."

Miller clarified Sunday that the outside group will be "just advisory" and that "it won't have control over what we publish."

Albom filed a column on April 1, the day before a Michigan State basketball game, which was published on April 3, after the game, and which falsely reported that two former players from the team attended the game. The falsehood raised concerns about Albom's reporting and cast a cloud over the editing at the Free Press that allowed the mistake to go unnoticed.

At panel yesterday on media ethics, which featured Miller, editors vowed to be as transparent as possible when handling ethical crises. Miller said handling the Albom case is unlike any other investigation because Albom is a media superstar.

CORRECTION, April 18: A version of this story posted Friday, April 15, while accurately reporting what E&P had been told, did not make clear the outside group's purely advisory role.


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