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Oregonian taking a lot of heat from readers for this one. What do you think?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by zachpm, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

  2. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    It is an interesting question. It isn't like there aren't offenders who have continued to have successful pro careers after their actions were found out.

    I think if this was known for a few years - maybe even a few months - it would be a lot different. Figure there are more than a few offenders who were never found out thriving in pro sports today - so is the problem that we know or the fact that he did it?
  3. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    Perhaps the most important element of this story is that it proves that at least one Division I program, Oregon State, had never thought to check if recruits were sex offenders. You'd better believe every AD worth his paycheck, golf club membership, new comp car every $10K miles, etc., is putting a policy in place if one does not already exist.

    From what I understand, it was not public record because of his age when convicted, and because he had followed all the conditions of his sentence. It only became public record when he was cited for failing to register in Oregon when he turned 21, which wasn't required in Washington,a charge that has been subsequently dismissed.

    He certainly was enough of a public figure in Oregon, where OSU baseball is very popular, with a statewide radio network, that had it been public record it would have surfaced before this.

    And going forward, if I were an athlete I'm not sure if I would agree to meet with Oregonian reporters for a profile, knowing they were running background checks on their subjects. You expect that from a prospective employer, yes, but from a newspaper for a feature? I think that will make some people uncomfortable.

    One can debate the merits of the story, and wonder at what point does someone who fulfilled his legal obligation for a crime quits paying for it until the cows come home, but I think Danny Moran is going to have a very hard time getting 1-on-1 access if he stays on the OSU beat this fall.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  4. Human_Paraquat

    Human_Paraquat Well-Known Member

    They didn't hire a private investigator. They found publicly available information. As a journalist, reading about this case makes me think I need to do more background research on otherwise non-controversial profile subjects, not less.
    FileNotFound likes this.
  5. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I have no problem with Moran. He's been covering OSU well and doing his job. I imagine he'll be able to have a career as a guest at media ethics seminars for years (if they have those seminars anymore).

    This does though raise the question again - we debated it in journo classes - is a "public record" a "fact" or a "story." Is the fact enough of a story? Obviously this is a gateway to larger questions about juvenile offenders and when do they stop paying for their crime vs. public interest/safety concerns. I honestly have no idea. Case by case? Age of victims/offenders? Family history?

    What is the public's "right" to know?
  6. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    If it was a bar fight involving a public figure, it most certainly would be fair game.
    Juicy has nothing to do with it. It was a serious sex crime and it was public information about a public figure. You run it in a heartbeat.
  7. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Wondering how long it will be before a firebrand Oregon State professor or two start asking why the kid was allowed on campus in the first place, if anyone involved with the athletic department knew. Those types got a coach fired and a team disbanded for a year at Duke because an adult stripper went to a lacrosse team party of her own free will and accord.
  8. UPChip

    UPChip Well-Known Member

    I think the editor's statement addressed that issue to a point. You're right in that Heimlich has 'done his time,' but 21st century American society has largely come to the conclusion that no one guilty of a sex crime (particularly one against a child) can be completely rehabilitated. Some of that is based on truth (though as the article notes, young teens like Heimlich was have a very low recidivism rate) and some of that is based on the fact that "To Catch a Predator" and other means of "stranger danger" stories have largely captured the public interest. That creates a complicated situation regarding rights, though, in my state, where one of the most infamous such instances (the Jacob Wetterling case) was just resolved within the last year, the state has been under pressure from the federal courts because its inpatient sex offender treatment program has been de facto impossible to be released from, essentially amounting to a life sentence for people who got less than life sentences.
  9. Matt1735

    Matt1735 Well-Known Member

    My question, as someone out of the daily business for 10 plus years.... Is it routine to do criminal background checks on subjects of features and takeouts? Know we didn't do it years ago.
  10. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

  11. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    That's what I was curious about. I've never worked at a major paper, but I've never even thought to do it on what seems like it was a run of the mill sports feature. Maybe on a politician or someone you'd heard some chatter about, and you always have a certain level of due diligence to pursue, but not enough to call it "routine."
    Just as an expense it would seem hard to justify when you might run several hundred of those a year across the entire span of a large paper like The Oregonian.
  12. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Is there such a thing as 1-on-1 access anymore at programs in the major conferences? It was not common in my last five years on a beat. There was almost always someone sitting in on interviews, or standing a few feet away, listening ...

    That aside for a moment, this topic reminds me of a scene in "Spotlight," when Mike Rezendes wants a judge to release sealed documents related to the sex-abuse cases in Boston. The judge asks, "Where is the editorial responsibility in publishing records of this nature?" Rezendes replies, "Well, where's the editorial responsibility in not publishing them?"

    No, I'm not equating the pitcher's case to those of the abusive priests of the Archdiocese of Boston, but I wonder: What would journalists here be saying about The Oregonian if a national news organization had broken the story — and it came out that The Oregonian knew long before, had the story all buttoned up, but didn't run it? I'd have to have a damn good reason not to publish this, all things considered. I haven't read or heard one yet. If the fallout from publishing it means I can't get a 1-on-1 interview anymore, I'd take that trade-off any day of the week for doing my job.
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