Tuesday, May 07, 2013

USAT/WKYC | Let's hope their sourcing is solid

Relying on "unidentified police sources" originally quoted by Gannett's WKYC-TV, USA Today is effectively identifying by name as many as three rape victims in its story about the horrendous kidnapping-rescue case in Cleveland.

Here's the key paragraph: "WKYC-TV, quoting unidentified police sources, reported Tuesday that the suspects allegedly forced the women to have sex, resulting in up to five pregnancies."

16 comments:

  1. Get a clue, Jim. These women were all reported as missing. At least one of the cases was highly publicized long before this. There's no way their names wouldn't be reported, along with the details of what happened.

    Try to think through something before you rush to post.

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    1. USAT's sourcing standards have changed dramatically in the past year. How many editors now OK use of unidentified sources? At one time, post-Jack Kelley, that required an ME's approval.

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    2. There you go moving the goalposts again. The names have been out there all day in multiple sources.

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    3. When I checked earlier tonight, neither the NYT or WSJ was characterizing this as involving rape.

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  2. "Unidentified police sources" is probably code for "we cribbed this from other news outlets."

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. So, Jim, where did the kids come from then?

    You're going to look foolish when these details develop.

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  4. In the NYT and WSJ, I see references to only one child.

    Again, this post is about USAT identifying by name as many as three rape victims, and relying on anonymous sources that editors may not themselves know.

    The Jack Kelley Report of April 2004 noted that USAT had an 11-point guideline on use of anonymous sources -- and the report's authors said even those guidelines weren't strong enough, including this one:

    "Accusations and speculation, in direct quotes or another form, are not acceptable except in extraordinary circumstances and must be approved by the executive editor or the editor. The issue of fairness should always be considered. Ask yourself whether you would consider the wording fair if something comparable were reported about you."

    For the full section on sourcing, See Page 5 of the 10-page report.

    I wonder if Publisher Larry Kramer or Editor in Chief David Callaway have read the Kelley Report?

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    1. Jim, try to keep up. One more time: These were missing people. At least one person's case was highly publicized. There is no way these names were not going to be reported.

      You are just making yourself look silly by proceeding with this stance.

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    2. Now I see why we have a misunderstanding. I'm sorry about the confusion I caused. Of course, they had to identify them by name, for the very reason you give.

      What I found/find troublesome was the inclusion of rape allegations, based on sources USAT editors may or may not have known.

      Certainly, all media have included the three womens' names. But the NYT and WSJ, last time I checked, wasn't characterizing this as a case of repeated rape, and attributing that to anonymous sources.

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  5. So, we shouldn't report anything until the NYT or WSJ report it first? Congrats on the scoop, WKYC, and for USAT embracing sharing the work of Gannett journalists on a breaking story.

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    1. Not exactly. But given the frequency with which USAT follows up on stories first in the NYT and WSJ, you might think that was, indeed, the policy.

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  6. Giving credit where it's due, USAT's print headline -- "House of Horrors" -- was more tasteful than the New York Post's "Sex Slaves."

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  7. Looks like the sourcing was correct. Rape charges filed.

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  8. So, Jim, Usa Today was actually ahead of the competition by a full day, and connected the dots accordingly. Once in a while, it does get things right.

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