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.
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.
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.
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 / 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 / Richard Dudman, the former chief Washington correspondent of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, turned 95 on May 3. I don’t believe in heroes, but Richard Dudman is my hero. So many reporters and editors get tired, burned out or cynical. Not Dudman. He never has lost his love for a big story or his intrepid pursuit of the truth in the face of danger. Dudman always kept his suitcase packed so that he could make it to the airport before editors back home had second thoughts about the cost of an international trip.
BY WILLIAM FREIVOGEL / The Missouri Senate fell one vote short of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would have made it a crime to print the name of a person who owned a gun. The bill also would have made it a crime for Missouri law enforcement officials to enforce federal gun laws thought to violate the Second Amendment.