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Austin American Statesman story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by CarltonBanks, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. CarltonBanks

    CarltonBanks New Member

    The author of this piece has clearly already made up their mind, but I was wondering what everyone else thinks. Did the Austin American Statesman cross the line here? I think the second story was not necessary, but could see both sides.

  2. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    We had a story like this at my paper about the time I started there. Some local guy in a wheelchair did something sportsy that I don't even remember. He told our writer he was paralyzed in a hunting accident.

    A couple of days later a clipping turned up on the SE's desk. Turned out the guy was paralyzed 25 years ago when he was shot by a laundromat owner while robbing the place.

    I don't think we even bothered with a follow-up because the guy got what he wanted: A clipping that rewrote his history.

    And in a fashion, so did Granny.
  3. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    By the way, mods, this probably belongs better on the journo board.
  4. CarltonBanks

    CarltonBanks New Member

    probably does ... my bad
  5. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    Such a past detail could have worked in the original story, as a "Granny leaves bad past behind, now enjoying twilight of life flying planes" kind of thing.

    But there is nothing newsworthy about the old conviction. The reporter blew it the first time, and doesn't get a do-over.
  6. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member


    In trying to "make up" for what it missed the first time, the paper instead made the situation worse and inserted itself into the story, which is pretty unforgivable, from a journalistic standpoint.
  7. sportsguydave

    sportsguydave Active Member

    This is a tough one. It certainly sounds like she had put the past behind her ... and if the paper had dug that up in advance of the original story, then it was fair game. I'd have to agree with Rasputin and Buck. One bite at the apple on something like this.

    We should NEVER be part of the story.
  8. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    And, certainly, if you're going to call someone a child murderer in print then maybe you should devote a little more space than 470 words. And, you know, do a little more research.
    I understand the need and the desire by the Statesmen to do the story. The execution was sloppy. Especially after the editors found the need to run a correction with the follow-up, there should have been some more questions asked of the reporter's research.
  9. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    If it were my call, I would not have done the second story. The "new information" has no bearing on the original story. She's flying a plane, not running a babysitting service.

    But I have to admit, it's not exactly breaking my heart that the woman who beat a 5 year old to death is now suffering some unpleasantness as a result.
  10. CarltonBanks

    CarltonBanks New Member

    It seems like they did the "feel good" angle, then panicked like hell when found out about the past. And PC, if you read through the link the actual crime seems pretty questionable. She pled no contest and was given a very light sentence for a crime of that magnitute, which tells me the prosecutor or judge weren't very convinced she was a child killer. I could be wrong.
  11. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    This is a good example of why I hate "feel good" stories. There's usually another shoe that's about to drop.

    And if we can't find it in the first attempt, we've blown our chance to write a truly nuanced story.
  12. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    This reminds me of the time I did a story about former Heisman winners and I failed to check into O.J. Simpson's past.
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