By WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / Whether viewed from a legal, moral or ethical vantage point, the lifetime ban that NBA commissioner Adam Silver imposed on racist Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was just and correct. After Silver announced the punishment, the Twittersphere exploded with claims that the NBA had violated Sterling’s First Amendment right to free speech. The problem with that argument is the first word of the First Amendment: Congress.
Adam Nagourney of The New York Times demonstrated the power of one reporter and one video this week with his story about defiant rancher Cliven Bundy’s racist remarks suggesting blacks were better off as slaves picking cotton. The New York Times was late to the story of Bundy’s refusal to follow federal grazing laws and…
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / The journalism world’s embrace of Glenn Greenwald and his advocacy reporting is now complete with the award of the Pulitzer Prize to the Guardian for Greenwald’s disclosure of Edward Snowden’s NSA secrets. As with many youthful infatuations, the journalism world has rushed headlong into this relationship without listening to the alarms that surely went off in the heads of veteran journalists.
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / Top editors of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have written a letter to the editor of the Gateway Journalism Review taking issue with a recent story about the paper’s “Jailed By Mistake” investigation. The GJR is publishing the entire letter to provide the newspaper a full airing of its views and because the letter is an extraordinarily detailed defense of a major newspaper project.
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / The “Jailed by Mistake” project published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this past fall had all of the earmarks of enterprising journalism in the public interest. By the time the project went to press Oct. 27, the Post-Dispatch reported that 100 people had been arrested in error over the past seven years and had spent a collective 2,000 days in jail. But in the months since publication, a former Post-Dispatch editorial writer who went to work for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay meticulously documented what he thinks were mistakes in the series about mistakes. The top Slay administration official, Eddie Roth, has gone about it in an unorthodox way: He has published a series of criticisms on his Facebook page that have run even longer than the original series.
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce has called upon St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor Gilbert Bailon to order an “independent audit of the reporting” for the paper’s high-profile “Jailed by Mistake” investigation. She wrote in a Nov. 26 letter to Bailon that her staff had found “substantial factual errors” in the paper’s conclusion that more than 100 people had been mistakenly jailed for more than 2,000 total days.
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a correction this week to its “Jailed by Mistake” series, acknowledging that one man it had reported as jailed by mistake had not been behind bars. The correction was included in a Page 1 story by Robert Patrick under the headline, “Man battles to free himself from St. Louis police paperwork glitch.”
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / Eddie Roth, St. Louis’ Director of Operations and former Post-Dispatch editorial writer, is using his Facebook page to criticize a recent Post-Dispatch series, “Jailed by Mistake.” Roth maintains the series “is premised on ‘facts’ whose accuracy the reporters admittedly have been unable to verify, and that it distorts statements in ways that create a patently false and deeply unfair impression of official indifference.”
BY WILLIAM H. FREIVOGEL / Every journalist should read this week’s debate between Bill Keller, the former executive editor of The New York Times, and Glenn Greenwald, who has written stories in The Guardian based on Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA surveillance. The debate is between Keller’s classical brand of impartial, let-the-reader decide journalism and Greenwald’s brand of advocacy journalism where the reporter transparently discloses his beliefs and asserts facts that support those beliefs.
BY WILLIAM FREIVOGEL / Speaking on the second-day of the federal government shutdown, journalist Mark Leibovich said Washington doesn’t work anymore because of media polarization, big money and the celebritization of politicians. He said the media “has made it easy to grandstand” for politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx.