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How do we feel about the Chron guys now?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SF_Express, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. Yodel

    Yodel Active Member

    I seem to remember in my media law class a case where (sorry if the facts are hazy) one candidate for office called a local paper and promised damning info on his opponent, but only if he was granted anonymity.

    If I remember correctly, the "info" was all a bunch of hooey (once didn't pay a parking ticket, etc.), and the paper reported "Candidate tries to spread meaningless gossip about opponent." Since the sleazeball was promised anonymity, he sued and won. It seems it was an important case (else it wouldn't have been in the media law class), but I don't remember the name.

    All that to say, I don't think, without risking a lawsuit (and, really, if anyone knows how to sue you, it is a lawyer) the reporters could have reported the defense attorney's role in this. However, as many have said, I'm very concerned about them going back to the lawyer again after he filed for dismissal.

    Very strange.
  2. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    So if we write the correct story, we get all the credit, and if we write the wrong story, the editors get all the blame.
    Glad you cleared that up Dave.
  3. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    And as I stated before, a story involving an asshole baseball player roiding up was the wrong case to push freedom of the press rights and shield laws.
  4. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    I think reporters and media outlets may want to be stricter in ground rules with sources in light of this, so we're not setting ourselves up to be this complicit in a fraud.
  5. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    That's the thing: whenever an investigative story of any kind is done, it's hard to believe every source doesn't have an agenda. It's up to the reporter (and hopefully the editor) to decide if a story is important enough to give those people - with an axe to grind - an outlet for their crap.

    This is tough, yes. I still support their decision to protect their source. It is not our job to decide which sources desrve protection. Even a deal with the most odious individuals like this defense lawyer is not a reason for a journalist to compromise the integrity of protecting a source.

    Even if they were surprised by the lawyer's actions after the initial leaks, I would guess they were in too deep by that point and wanted to see the story through, knowing A. how important it would be and B. How potentially lucrative it could be.

    But yes, this will end badly. These are questions that will make this an even more compelling, fascinating story.
  6. What a fascinating case. I was about to surmise that press attorneys might advise newspapers to include some kind of clause in their anonymity agreement such as "we won't disclose your name as long as ..." but now I don't see how it would work. If you say, "as long as you don't lie about it" you're preventing him from denying he's the source" and if you say, "as long as you don't use the information in a crime" you're preventing him from possibly achieveing a greater good ... though it seems as hardly any of the cases are for the greater good anymore ...

    Any reporter would have taken the deal initially. I don't know what the hell I would do when I found out I was putting my newspaper in a position to lie ... I certainly wouldn't have said, "Thank you sir may I have another," but then again the facts aren't all out. Like I said, what a fascinating and frightening case.
  7. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Reporters find stories and thus deserve credit, editors and lawyers make decisions on whether to publish. Unless the reporters deceive the editors, of course it is the editors' fault.
  8. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    <devil's advocate>

    But they went back to Ellerman and got MORE information/testimony from him AFTER Ellerman went on and on to the judge and in the press about what a miscarriage of justice it was for his clients and was painting it that it was the prosecutor's office doing the leaking.
  9. Could newspapers start telling sources that we won't disclose your name unless the alternative is lying to the public? Too cumbersome, probably ... any lawyers on here? Rambo?
  10. RokSki

    RokSki New Member

    Judith Miller, anyone? Bob Woodward? It's never a nice thing to be someone's bitch, whatever the reason.

    I never liked this, from the start. Especially with how Fainaru-Wada turned media trollop. As least Lance kept some semblance of dignity.

    Here's who I want to see write about this latest turn:


    You're on the clock, Mike Lupica; and your ass is in check. Let's see how you protect the king now.
  11. Dave Kindred

    Dave Kindred Member

    It was always the Chronicle's story, never the reporters' story, as any such story is the newspaper's, not the reporters'. Woodward and Bernstein didn't start the presses on their stuff; Katharine Graham said go.

    I'm with 21 here. It's all but impossible to believe that the Chronicle allowed reporters to deal with a double-dealing source they knew to be smearing not only the prosecutors but the paper itself; that makes no sense. Either Ellerman has lied about the timeline, as to when he dealt with Fainaru-Wada, perhaps to curry favor with prosecutors; or the feds have misstated that timeline for their own reasons, for they surely had begun a vendetta against the Chronicle.
  12. Or these guys were too scoop-happy to care, and Ellerman wants to stay out of jail.
    Sorry, but the facts on the ground right now point to some real journalistic nonfeasance here. I don't think the two guys wanted to know and then they didn't care. And I think the prosecutors -- or, at least, the investigators, especially that Bonds-happy IRS guy -- were more than happy to play along.
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