Investigative Reporters: Theft Is Wrong p.9

By: M.L. Stein But all want more details about the unusual Enquirer-Chiquita deal

Investigative reporters and editors interviewed about the alleged voice mail thefts of a fired Cincinnati Enquirer reporter unanimously agreed in principle that stealing material for a story is wrong, but they generally withheld final judgment on the matter until more information comes out.
Some newsmen and women declined to say anything at all about the scandal, pleading they didn't know enough about it or that they felt uncomfortable discussing it.
The others expressed grave concern that the Enquirer's $10 million payment and its front-page apology to Chiquita Brands International will further damage the press' credibility.
"This has been a bad month for journalism," lamented Mike McGraw, a Pulitzer Prize-winning special projects reporter for the Kansas City Star.
He worried that the Enquirer case will lead to editors holding back on investigative reporting. "Most journalists are ethical but this makes it hard for all of us who do investigative reporting," he said. "Most Investigative Reporters and Editors members will worry about what this will do to the craft."
"It's too soon to make a judgment on this, but a reporter cannot break the law," said Judy Miller, deputy city editor for the Miami Herald and president of the (IRE) board of directors. Mike Gallagher, the sacked Enquirer reporter who was the primary author of the Chiquita stories, is also a member of the IRE.
Rosemary Armao, a county bureau chief for the Baltimore Sun and former executive director of IRE, worried about an adverse effect the Enquirer affair might have on investigative reporting.
"I wish the paper would come out with some kind of statement that would provide more explanation," she said.
Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw said a crucial issue in the matter is, "There are big holes in what has been put out . . . how accurate or inaccurate is the material? I believe the people who publish the Enquirer did their paper and journalism a disservice by not saying whether or not they believe the story is accurate. But on the question of stealing voice mail, you don't do it."
Shaw also raised the question of whether the Enquirer's settlement with Chiquita included an agreement that no one discuss whether or not the series was accurate. "It's what we don't know that bothers me," he added.
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http: www.mediainfo. com) [caption]
?(Editor & Publisher, July 4, 1998) [Caption]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here