Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Chronicle: Right Again

Friday’s Chronicle has another spot-on editorial. Duke’s Student Government purchases one local paper for free newspaper boxes across campus; during the 2006-2007 academic year, the Herald-Sun was the choice. Using the lacrosse case coverage as an example, the Chronicle urges a move to the N&O. They note,

The Herald-Sun—under the leadership of Editor Bob Ashley, Trinity ‘70 and a former managing editor of The Chronicle—has consistently been out-reported on Durham stories by The N&O. Since the Paxton buyout, the Durham paper has cut more than 80 staff members and received widespread criticism for its coverage of the lacrosse case . . . [and] while The Herald-Sun’s overworked writers have cut back on investigative reporting, The N&O this week concluded a groundbreaking five-part series on the lacrosse case that has put much other media coverage to shame.
All the while, Editor Ashley and his cohort have “been hesitant to acknowledge its myriad editorial mistakes. A recent example is a front-page story that appeared in Monday’s paper—the article falsely claimed that racial considerations influenced North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper’s decision to declare the former lacrosse players innocent.”

Chronicle commenters overwhelmingly backed the move. “I completely agree that if Duke’s hometown newspaper can’t even give honest and ‘live’ news coverage, it’s not serving any useful purpose, except perhaps in one’s fireplace,” said one. Another noted, “The Herald-Sun has consistently sided with Durham ‘activists’ in their tirades against Duke University and Duke students. Bob Ashley has been a disgrace. His motivations seem twisted. Either he had prioritized whatever he perceived were his commercial interests in Durham, or he succumbed to some social-activist instinct of his own (similar to Nifong’s championing of ‘his victim’).”

As John in Carolina has observed, the N&O’s early coverage of the case was very poor, and its pallid editorial page for too long ignored the insights gleaned from the news that its own reporters produced. But overall, the N&O broke more stories on the case than every other newspaper in the country combined. As Wade Smith noted, “I think The News & Observer has done a really terrific job in covering the lacrosse story. I think at first The News & Observer went for (the accuser’s) story. But The News & Observer has done careful and very responsible reporting after the initial part of the coverage ended and The News & Observer started to see the light.”

The move seems particularly appropriate given that financial considerations appear to have played some role in Editor Ashley’s slanted coverage. By leading the anti-Duke charge, the case provided an opportunity for the paper to increase its appeal in the African-American community. It seems only fitting, then, that the Herald-Sun should instead lose financially from its poor coverage.

It’s my understanding that Student Government leaders were already thinking along the same lines as Chronicle editors, and hopefully the move from the Herald-Sun to the N&O will swiftly occur.


Anonymous said...

It's very hard to hold irresponsible media accountable, but this would be a good first step....

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Yeeehaaw! I don't have to go through DIW withdrawal just yet. KC posted on a weekend, bless him!

That aside, I totally agree with the Chronicle's editorial. Why should Duke support a newspaper fit only for fish wrap or the bottom of a bird cage when it should instead support a paper of integrity?

Anonymous said...

KC-its midnight out here, but thought I would check comment section before retiring. And there you were - Thanks

Anonymous said...

NY Times said that maybe they should have given more weight to notes taken during the FA interviews rather then a report made up months later made from memory that conflicted with the notes taken at the time.

Wow, you think!

Anonymous said...

THE N&O deserve a pulitzer and joe neef deserves a POLK AWARD...and the editors at the chronicle are correct in their evaluation between the two papers...

N AND O in absolute terms without taking sides reported the FACTS...

we can only be grateful to such a humble man as joe neff, who responded to every insight from readers competent to see how the facts would unfold

the expose' on linwood wilson proved the incompetance of the local district attorneys office at the very same time the herald called him a PRO, without asking a single question or verifying his past

i celebrate that DUKE can be restructured from within...but it cant be reformed by the BOARD, by the President, or the faculty senate...if they can change newspapers, they can change the administration

Anonymous said...

Revisiting The Times’s Coverage of the Duke Rape Case

i read the article you posted even though the LINK didnt work as it should...

this is typical softy NEW YORK TIMES---a paper without moral backbone


refusing to clamp down on a reporter who GOT INSIDE INFORMATION that was WRONG..totally wrong...and gullable because his BIAS couldnt allow him to question the FACTS

..and why the TIMES is becoming obselete VS great foreign newspapers...

RIGHT NOW the great drudge report get 414 million hits a month vs the NYTIMES 460million BECAUSE PEOPLE want to see ALL the FACTS

Anonymous said...

KC, I thought you were taking weekends off?

Anonymous said...

Off point - I know KC supports Obama (as did I). This AM's Drudgereport has him embracing Sharpton - creator and unapologetic ringleader of the tawana brawley hoax. What say you KC?

Anonymous said...

NY alTimes article today contains no apology (that I noted). No heads to roll. Just business as usual.

Anonymous said...

With the general campus cutback reshaping the 'subscribership', the H/S can come out with a special Angry Studies Edition.

Anonymous said...

Times describes reporter who did Aug 25 execrable article as "straightforward" - why?

Times wholly uninterested in damage they did. All in a days' work.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, too many members of the press are both moral and physical cowards.

Btw, how are the Duke Univ. Trustees selected? Is it by a vote, and if so, who votes?

R.R. Hamilton
Bachelor of Journalism, The University of Texas at Austin, 1981

Anonymous said...


The mechanism for electing BoT members has been covered here before - but in short, they are nominated and elected by other board members. The ultimate "Good Ol' Boy" network. Smoke filled back rooms. Insider trading. Closed loop...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 8:39 AM said, The mechanism for electing BoT members has been covered here before - but in short, they are nominated and elected by other board members. The ultimate "Good Ol' Boy" network. Smoke filled back rooms. Insider trading. Closed loop...

Then I would say there is no hope at all for reform at Duke.

R.R. Hamilton

Gary Packwood said...

Community Involvement

So "Duke’s Student Government purchases one local paper for free newspaper boxes across campus.'

Is this the extent of their community involvement? Be still my heart!

This is part of the problem.

Duke's Student Government should call for a Community Day each year on campus.

A big picnic with many activities for kids and older people.

And they should charge each person for approximately the cost of the food...with an understanding that the executive staff of Duke has a pocket full of tickets to give away for free.

Telling me that they purchase a community newspaper is an act of pure symbolism.They are recognizing that there are un-anointed ones out Durham.

If Duke student government will get off their duff and take the time to insure that the big Duke pipe organ is fired up on Community Day ...they will witness a corresponding decrease in fired calling from their neighbors.

Community Day. Just do it!


Anonymous said...

From the NYslimes article anyone know what "nut graf" is?

Tom E.

Gary Packwood said...

Nut Graf from Wikipedia
A nut graf (sometimes spelled nut graph and also called a billboard) is one or more paragraphs, particularly in a feature story, that explain the news value of the story.

In most news stories, the essential facts of a story are included in the lede (or lead), the first sentence or two of the story. For example, a story about crime statistics might start out with a lede like: "Violent crime is down in Anytown but shoplifting is soaring, according to statistics released by the Anytown Police Department Tuesday." Good ledes try to answer who, what, when, where, why and how as quickly as possible.

In feature stories, however, or in news written in a feature style, the story will often begin in a more narrative style. For example, the first few paragraphs of a feature story on the crime statistics above might start by introducing a local business owner who was affected by the boom in shoplifting. The nut graf, which often will start in the third or fourth paragraph, will explain what the story is about, including much (though not necessarily all) of the information that would have been contained in a lede.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Gary

Tom E.

Anonymous said...

I do agree with Chronicle-N&O would be a better choice than H-S. I am not sure how much of a complement to N&O that is, though.
Yes, the coverage by the N&O improved, but the damage of their early coverage is done.
Neff is a good investigative journalist, but even those five ground breaking articles, and a profile of Crystal were published after the boys were exonerated. What was N&O waiting for? Had the profile of Crystal been published a year ago, it could have made a difference, don't you think?
What good is it now?

Anonymous said...

Know that I know what nut graf is I have re read the NYslimes article.

It appears to me, and correct me if I am wrong.

The pubic editor is saying;

Our emphasis (nut graf) was on their being enough evidence to send these boys to trial.


We published all the facts in the case so a reasonable person should have inferred that the case was made up.


In hindsight since we were caught and everybody complained about our twisting the facts 180 degrees we should have emphasized (nut graf) the correct interpatation of the evidence.

But hey we are the NYslimes what’s wrong with that?.

Tom E.

Anonymous said...

How about if Duke provides no newspaper?

The N & O has one serious reporter on this case -- Joe Neff with an occasional assist from Ben Nicolet. The others, Samiha Khanna, Anne Blythe, and editors such as Melanie Sill, were totally off-base in their coverage. Sill still doesn't get it. Her latest rant is that people who are critical of the N & O's coverage of the Nifong Hoax Scandal "hate us." How juvenile.

Newspapers today can be useful in several ways, such as cleaning windows and providing a cushion when packing boxes. As sources of factual information, not so much.

If Duke really wants to fulfill its mission as an institution engaged in education, it shouldn't have such poor examples of fact-reporting so easily available to its students.

Anonymous said...

Re 2:23 am:

You ask:
Why should Duke support a
newspaper fit only for fish wrap
or the bottom of a bird cage when
it should instead support a
paper of integrity?

The answer is:
Because they also support entire
academic departments whose
output is the equivalent of
rotten fish and the material
that accumulates at the bottom
of bird cages.

What is significant is that the student body (not the ones with "questions") is beginning to fight back.

Let's see how long it is before Brodhead and the 88 Intellectual Dwarves attempt to supress this kind of insurrection against the post-modern corruption of the College of A&S.

Michael said...

I had a look at a 10-year chart of the New York Times and they're up about 20% for that period of time. Pretty awful return on investment if you ask me.

They've lost 50% of their value since mid-2002.

The market eventually punishes poor performance. I'd lump shading the truth in the poor performance category. Especially when your business is about telling the truth. If they slanted the Lacrosse case, then one assumes that they do the same in other areas.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 6:28am claims KC supports Obama. Wow, how utterly bizarre if true. There is regrettably little basis for me to doubt that Obama would have been in the 88 Group were he Duke faculty.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are still good uses for newspapers nowdays. For instance, I use them to line up my bird cages.

Mad Hatter said...

Thanks KC for this weekend update. Boy, am I going to miss you!

Anonymous said...

I cut $1900 per week of their revenue when I stopped advertising in H-S and moved to Durham News ( a weekly of N & O.) Not a big fan of N & O, but screw H-s! PLease, more people cut advertising and they will disappear in their own shameful red ink.

Anonymous said...

It's amusing that Obama, in 'embracing' Al Sharpton, is using the same tactics that Nifong did in Durham. He's pandering to the part of the black vote that Sharpton has appointed himself 'leader' of.

KC declared himself a supporter of Obama several weeks ago, and certainly not for such tactics. This might however be a wake-up call to keep a closer eye on Obama and see what comes next.

Anonymous said...


How can you not love Barack Obama? He's a philosopher/rock star, and certain to be our next president. And so what if Barack were a member of the Group, only it would have been the G89--LOL.

People need to listen to one another to solve the world's problems. Wahneema Lubiano, an underrated intellectual, has been unfairly smeared on DIW. Her listening statement was really an act of love for her fellow African-Americans. What a wonderful gesture to put your reputation on the line for a cause in which you truly believe.

God bless Wahneema, and God bless Barack Obama, the 1 true hope for an inclusive America.

Mr Hankie

Anonymous said...

The Chronicle staff is way too modest when they write: "The Herald Sun [. . .] has consistently been out-reported on Durham stories by The N&O." They should have also noted that the H-S has been out-reported by the Chronicle, which must have improved significantly since the days when Boob Ahsley was managing editor.

Gary Packwood said...

Anonymous 10:38 said...
...Anon. 6:28am claims KC supports Obama. Wow, how utterly bizarre if true. There is regrettably little basis for me to doubt that Obama would have been in the 88 Group were he Duke faculty.
If so then we would not be hearing about Obama today.

Dave said...

The NY Times’ Public Editor took a pass on the paper's coverage of the hoax.

First, he declared that any flaws in the coverage were due to journalistic lapses, not ideological bias. I don't see how you can look at the coverage of this case by the NY Times and virtually every other media outlet and not see that they were driven by their pre-conceived biases. The editor gives no support for his ruling out of ideological bias.

Then he says he will focus on the Aug. 25 article only and implies that the rest of the Times' coverage was fair and even-handed. We know that's a joke that continues to the present as Duff Wilson couldn't find room in his initial story to note that the AG called Nifong "a rogue prosecutor."

He notes complaints about some of the columns trashing the lacrosse team by citing other columns that strongly defended the team. Somehow, he believes that there is some equivalence between columns that rightly but belatedly supported the defendants’' innocence with columns that wrongly smeared and slimed then players and did it early and often.
We're not talking fairness doctrine where everybody gets equal time. Some of these columnists have been proven to be wrong.

Worst of all he neglects to explain how the NY Times could have said in a page one article that strong evidence exists to support the prosecutor's case when the AG found no evidence. As we know, Cooper found no evidence, not insufficient evidence. So how does the public editor let Wilson off the hook here?

Finally, he has an e-mail from Editor Keller saying that in retrospect he wishes that they had taken a different tone. What does that mean? It seems like Keller is saying he understands the Times has no accountability and he's not really concerned with the impact of their inaccurate coverage. Other than that, Keller's statement is meaningless. If Keller wanted it to be meaningful, he could assign a reporter to write an in-depth story on their misdirected coverage. I don't expect that to happen.

Another strike out for the Public Editor.

Anonymous said...

4:11 why focus on NY Times?

you give the paper too much credit

have you also noticed that no paper including the Times, has examined whether Barack Obama was an affirmative action admit to Harvard Law. That's newsworthy info, given the fact that Obama passes himself off as a bona fide "Harvard man"

Barack, which "Harvard" did you get accepted to?

Anonymous said...

The NYT Public Editor position was a fraud from its inception. As is the Times in general. I read the Sunday Times all week long as a teen, every page, every section (well, almost). What it was then I really have no way of knowing, but I figured out it was fish wrap in my twenties.

Anonymous said...

That as skilled and scholarly a writer, researcher and historian as KC manifestly is could see Obama as a credible Presidential candidate just blows my mind. Please say it ain't so.

Anonymous said...

"examined whether Barack Obama was an affirmative action admit to Harvard Law"

This is the really sad aspect of affirmative action.

If Obama were an AA admit just because he's black... the system failed because he had 'privileged' upbringing... and he shouldn't have been admitted if he was not qualified just because of his race.

If Obama were not an AA admit, then he unfairly carries the stigma of not deserving being there.

Either way, this is another program for the dust heap of history.

Anonymous said...

You're so right about that. How does anyone know who is legit and who is an AA receiver?
That's the sorry result of affirmative action for those simply because they are black.
Many, many times the people receiving financial goodies and easy admissions to universities are from upper and upper middle class families, economically. Yet their grades still do not meet the requirements without affirmative action admission. Why?
I went to school and was a friend of a black female out of state student from Chicago. Despite the fact that she was from a family of professionals, she received financial help and affirmative action because she was black.
What did her parents do with all those thousands saved because of this free ride? They bought her a nice townhouse where she lived while attending school. Her car was the Mercedes sports model--350 or 450 SL--or whatever. She dressed with the latest fashion.
That's the kind of abuses which exist on a regular basis. I see Barack Obama as a similar affable sham. But that could just be the legacy of AA abuse and fraud. How does anyone know who's legit?
If he's now supporting Al Sharpton, then he has no chance of doing much of anything serious.

Anonymous said...

Rudy G is my candidate - The insults to Obama are dispicable. They will all be making nice with Al. Its part of the game. Any one with who has been around politics knows that.

Anonymous said...

They are not "insults."

Aren't you a little bit suspicious of someone going into politics who publishes nothing but memoirs?

If he's biracial, why pass himself off as black?

This guy is a lightweight par excellence.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the insults toward Obama are despicable.
He'll probably be our next Commander-in-Chief.

Anonymous said...

I urge everyone to visit

There's a wonderful article about Colgate U's attempts to diversify.

Affirmative action is government-sanctioned fraud.

Anonymous said...

I would like to distance myself from the Obama-bashing that has been going on in this comment section.

The fact is, Obama's only involvement in the Duke lacrosse case was to
take a position that most of us here support
-- endorsing the call for a Department of Justice inquiry into whether Mike Nifong had violated the defendants' civil rights.

That may not be a lot, but it is more than a lot of other politicians did.

And the idea that Obama is "passing himself off as black" -- well, most people who have one black parent and one white parent look black, and in the USA most of them are considered black by others in society.

And even if Obama was admitted to Harvard Law School by affirmative action (and there is no way of knowing whether he was or wasn't), he still graduated, which means he still has the right to consider himself a Harvard man.

If you want to go around talking about how Obama would make a bad president, is inexperienced, is too liberal, or what have you, that's fine, but do that in the comments of some other blog. We're here to talk about the Duke case on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Who besides Nifong did not know there was no medical evidence to support Crystal?