If you got a tip that state police were fixing tickets for big shots and political figures, how would you check it out? In 1980, I worked on just such a story with Roy Malone, my friend and former colleague at the AP and then the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I didn’t do much work on…
Dear Mr. Babcock: We had trusted that the Gateway Journalism Review’s recent article, “Social Media Campaign by former P-D writer alleges P-D mistakes in series about mistakes” (Winter 2014), by publisher Bill Freivogel would finally offer a fairer and more complete assessment of our “Jailed by Mistake” project than your previous online efforts. Instead, we unfortunately found a disappointing lack of critical thinking, balance and independent reporting. The most disturbing failures of the article were its absence of analysis, its lopsided “he said, she said,” nature of reporting and its author’s willingness to accept without question assertions and spin by the very public officials who oversee operations that mistakenly put innocent people in jail. They are not neutral observers.
I am writing to offer my thoughts in response to the letter you recently received from the [St. Louis] Post-Dispatch regarding your publication’s analysis relating to the Post-Dispatch’s “Jailed by Mistake” articles. I believe Mr. Freivogel worked diligently to capture the perspectives of this complex situation in the Gateway Journalism Review (GJR). I am troubled by the response of the Post-Dispatch editors to this piece as it seems to be based on some substantial inaccuracies. My position regarding the items included in the March 7, 2014, letter sent to the GJR by Messrs. Gilbert Bailon and Adam Goodman of the Post-Dispatch have been well documented over the past several months with both the Post-Dispatch directly and with the GJR.
Joseph Pulitzer uttered three words that occupy an even more exalted place in the ideals of the working journalist than the poetry of his Platform: “Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy,” he said. The prize that bears Mr. Pulitzer’s name embeds in its rules another pre-eminent value of professional journalism: fairness. The Post-Dispatch has fallen woefully short of these standards. Its editors approved publication of reports that are grossly unfair, that are full of errors and that fundamentally misrepresent the system of criminal suspect identification in St. Louis.
BY WILLIAM A. BABCOCK / Read a couple of letters to our editor about articles in the Fall 2013 edition and the humorous replies.
COMPILED FOR GJR / The supposed “irony” of whistleblower Edward Snowden seeking asylum in countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela has become a media meme. Numerous articles, op-eds, reports and editorials in outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR and MSNBC have hammered on this idea since the news first broke that Snowden was seeking asylum in Ecuador. It was a predictable retread of the same meme last year, when Julian Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and the Ecuadorian government deliberated his asylum request for months. Of course, any such “ironies” would be irrelevant even if they were based on factual considerations.
On March 27, reader Laurance Strait replied to a Feb. 8 column by Gateway Journalism Review publisher William H. Freivogel with this email: “The reason civil libertarians and others are upset with Obama’s novel extra-judicial killing doctrine in part is in how it has been applied. Your characterization would be more persuasive to me if sitting in a café having breakfast didn’t count as being an ‘imminent threat’ that is ‘in the battlefield.’ As those facts are rather well known, I don’t really know how to read this post as anything but intentionally Orwellian.”
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) is committed to freedom of speech and the press in the United States and abroad. AEJMC believes that this commitment must include a free exchange of information and ideas, even some information that the U.S. government considers or wishes to be “secret.” The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair and the existence of clandestine CIA prisons are examples in which secret government information was leaked to, and publicized, by the news media. In these and in many other cases, the dissemination of secret information served a greater good to American society by informing the public and by allowing for a needed debate on the ethics of secret government policies and covert actions. We believe that a democracy shrouded in secrecy encourages corruption, and we agree, as Justice Louis D. Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”