Supermarket Tab Faces Backlash p.10

By: STACY JONES THE PUBLICATION BY the national supermarket tabloid Globe of crime scene photos from the JonBenet Ramsey murder surprised no one.
More interesting was the arrest of two Colorado men in connection with pilfering the photos which cast light on how some tabloids obtain the controversial information used to fill their pages.
On Jan. 15, Lawrence Shawn Smith, 36, an employee of Photo Craft Laboratories ? the lab used by the Boulder County coroner's office ? and Brett A. Sawyer, 38, a former Boulder County deputy, were arrested for supplying the Globe with the Ramsey photos.
Sawyer, a private investigator, was hired for $5,000 by the Globe to find out anything he could about the murder story. After paying his contact at Photo Craft $200, Sawyer got the goods for the Globe.
Michael Kahane, Globe general counsel, was quick to note that the Globe did nothing wrong and did not direct Sawyer to pay the lab technician for the photos.
"We hired him to get information on the story. This is how he chose to do it," said Kahane.
Once the coroner's office learned of the leak and the Globe's intentions to publish the crime scene photos, Boulder County attorneys went to court Jan. 13 to get a temporary restraining order preventing the tabloid from publishing additional photos.
The next day, the Globe and Boulder County reached a settlement.
In exchange for the county dropping its restraining order request and a civil lawsuit seeking punitive damages, the Globe agreed to return all seven original photos to the Boulder County coroner and to not publish the two remaining unpublished photos, though the Globe retained the right to republish the five photos it already ran.
The settlement suited the Globe, said Kahane. "We felt we were giving up nothing and gaining everything."
Kahane said the Globe agreed not to print the photos it hadn't used because they were duplicates of photos it had already published.
The day of the settlement, the Globe also announced it was offering a $50,000 reward for the apprehension of Ramsey's killer.
Regarding Smith and Sawyer, they were charged and released. Smith was charged with theft, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing government operations and false reporting. Sawyer was charged with obstructing government operations.
While people around the country were able to obtain the edition of the Globe containing the crime scene photos, Colorado's largest grocery chains refused to sell the Globe that week.
"We don't think it is appropriate to distribute them, so we're pulling them from all Safeway stores," that chain's spokesman Jeff Stroh told the Denver Post.
King Soopers and 7-Eleven stores also banned sale of the tabloid. The Post also reported that Safeway stores in the neighboring states of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico also did not sell that issue of the Globe.
A 7-Eleven spokeswoman told the Post that all 270 stores in Colorado sent their bundles back to the distributor.
# Editor & Publisher n February 1, 1997


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