Sunday, October 08, 2006

Walk down Memory Lane

For those who may question our renewed interest and ire at the N&O's early coverage, we ask you to read the Editor Linda Williams’ admission at the N&O Editors' blog regarding the information N&O decided to OMIT from their first interview with the accuser.
"The reporter’s interview with the woman was brief, an encounter that lasted a few minutes outside the woman’s parents’ home in Durham. Only two things the woman said at that time did not make publication. She provided a description of the then-unidentified second woman who had also been hired to dance at the lacrosse team party. She also offered an opinion about the other woman’s actions that night. The latter was clearly an opinion, offered without any substantiation. Omitting from published news articles unsubstantiated opinions is a standard, normal part of the journalistic process."
Quoting the articulate Momtothree on the LS board :
"The decision by LE, supported by the N&O, to eliminate the charge that Kim robbed the AV is one of the earliest and most egregious decisions made in this case. Imagine how different the second half of March and the first half of April would have unfolded if the discussion had included the AV's charge that Kim robbed her and assisted in the rape.It's like a giant wrench in all the stereotypes that drove that period."
Walk down Memory Lane

An imaginary instructional guide in Hoax Journalism

Class, today, we will review an article published by the N&O, that is an excellent demonstration of how to craft a story to achieve a desired emotional outcome. First assemble your materials. Only positive comments about the one side (in this case, the Accuser) and only negative comments about the Accused. Think where you might acquire the negative commentary you need. In a college town, irate neighbors are known to be an excellent source. All details given by the Good Side are to be presented, without question, fact-check, or further collaboration as Truth. The reader will then accept those details as Fact. We never probe the side we are advancing.

Next, choose your adjectives and analogies carefully. Certain words carry higher emotional values. We are attempting to create a mood, inspire certain outrage. Certain words are more conducive to that. Although this is a journalistic news report, we all have a bit of the novelist in us. We know the power of the "right" word. Ready, Class? Let's begin.

Here's a fine example from the N&O: "Dancer gives details of ordeal."

"A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence." - Here we choose to describe the Accuser as a "dancer", rather than as a "stripper" to divert readers from the Accuser's employment in the sex industry. Important to include racial slurs to begin to build disgust. The fact that one of the "dancers" might have used racial slurs will NOT be mentioned. It is important as we proceed to mention only positive things about both “dancers.” We must build sympathy. In contrast, our job is to mention only the worst we can find on the Lacrosse team. We will build anger against them at the same time. This is a potent mix of emotions, and will advance the story well. I particularly like the choice of the word "ordeal" right at the beginning. Excellent. Please don't use the word “alleged"...we're setting the mood here.

"The woman who says she was raped last week by three members of the Duke University lacrosse team thought she would be dancing for five men at a bachelor party, she said Friday. But when she arrived that night, she found herself surrounded by more than 40.” - Just take the Accuser’s word for this, please don't ask around if she'd danced for large groups before. The reader is with us now.

"Just moments after she and another exotic dancer started to perform, she said, men in the house started barking racial slurs. The two women, both black, stopped dancing." - "Barking" is a great verb choice here. We are telling only one side of the story here, but reporting it as a fact. Do not use "allegedly “ to distract from presenting this as the gospel truth. We like the verb "surrounded" though we don't know if it’s accurate. It provides negative visual context. Absolutely throw in the racial element. We're going to build on that later.

"We started to cry," she said. "We were so scared." - Excellent emotional manipulation here. Interesting, when we now read Jarriel Johnson’s and Brian Taylor’s accounts of the pre-party activities, by the Shy, Scared One. But I digress. In any event, use "we" here. Although occasionally the Accuser might say that the other Dancer assisted in the rape and/or robbed her...we are ignoring that version. Two heroines make the story play so much.... cleaner...Make them BOTH be crying and scared. Don't fret over Ms. William's unsubstantiated opinion rule. That only applies to opinions not suited to the atmosphere we intend to create.

"Forty-six members of the men's lacrosse team submitted DNA samples Thursday in the unusual case. As of late Friday, there had been no arrests. Duke officials briefed university staff Friday on the allegations, and authorities vowed to crack the team's wall of solidarity." -Let's use the term "Wall of solidarity" here as if it were fact. Ignore the fact that the Captains had given interviews to the police, given DNA, and offered to be polygraphed.

"We're asking someone from the lacrosse team to step forward," Durham police Cpl. David Addison said. "We will be relentless in finding out who committed this crime." - Presumption of guilt…readers will absorb this. He emphasized the seriousness of the accusations -- first-degree rape, kidnapping, assault by strangulation and robbery. Presumed charges yet… however the verbiage repeated is "committed this crime." Readers should have little doubt these players are guilty now. The POLICE say they are guilty! Oh my, strangulation and robbery too! Visions of the Nifong chokehold on TV.

"Details of the accusations were made public this week in a warrant authorizing a search of the three-bedroom rental house where the attack is alleged to have taken place. The accuser spoke Friday, struggling not to cry as she recounted the events of the early hours of March 14 at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd., next to Duke's East Campus." - "struggling not to cry”... is so important here! It adds the desired emotional aspect to inflame the readers.

It is The News & Observer's policy not to identify the victims of sex crimes. - The Accuser is a "victim." We use that term to advance the idea that Players are Guilty.

"The accuser had worked for an escort company for two months, doing one-on-one dates about three times a week." - We will not fact-check this. We'll just take her word and present it as truth. If the N&O attempts to verify by speaking with her escort service employers, or other sources, we might contradict her story and she must appear credible and blameless at this point.
"It wasn't the greatest job," she said, her voice trailing off. But with two children, and a full class load at N.C. Central University, it paid well and fit her schedule. - Important she act as if she doesn't like job… because readers may still show a little disapproval. Stress the economic necessity. This is a good distraction.

"This was the first time she had been hired to dance provocatively for a group, she said." - For God's sake, make NO attempt to find out if she was experienced. She needs to be pure...just a little misguided.

"There was no security to protect her, and as the men became aggressive," - Oh, we're building the scene here...
"the two women started to leave. After some of the men apologized for the behavior, the women went back inside, according to police. That's when the woman was pulled into a bathroom and raped and sodomized, police said." - We like THIS version of the Accuser's story, so that's the one we're using...not any of her other versions. We already omitted stuff the Accuser said about Kim. We need Kim to be a victim of these guys too.

"She hesitated to tell police what happened, she said Friday. She realized she had to, for her young daughter and her father." - See, since she" hesitated," that makes her sound so exploited and vulnerable. Willing to endure these monsters at her first time dancing "employment obligation." This is like a Hollywood movie now. The readers must be on fire!

"A hurt that would last" - By now the readers are SMOKING!

"My father came to see me in the hospital," she said. "I knew if I didn't report it that he would have that hurt forever, knowing that someone hurt his baby and got away with it." - In our N&O May 19 article, we will take the time to disprove this statement by quoting the father as saying he didn't know his daughter was working as an escort that night, and didn't see her till she came home late in the morning on March 14th... but for now let's go with this hospital version without checking. So poignant. The family element is awesome. God, don't check ...this is too good for us to lose if it's not a fact. The righteous image of the father by the bedside...of "his baby." The readers will be launched to outrage!

(Now we'll add the neighbor…tempo down a bit)

"Jason Bissey, who was on his porch next door during the party, saw the victim that night. He said Friday that he wishes he had called police at the first sign something was wrong." -Piling on now...he heard an argument where both sides were obnoxious.
He saw at least 30 men go into the white three-bedroom house, which Duke officials say is rented by three lacrosse team captains.Bissey saw two women arrive and, after they were in the house 20 minutes, come out. As they got into a car, men shouted, Bissey said."Some of them were saying things like, 'I want my money back,' " Bissey said.He recalled the racially charged statements at least one man was yelling at the victim. - Let this one man smear the whole team.

"When I was outside, one guy yelled at her, '... Thank your grandpa for my cotton shirt,' " Bissey said. - Forget that Kim's racially charged sexual comment might have been yelled first… because it would interfere with our intent to evoke sympathy for BOTH “dancers.” We need this nasty racial comment to stand on its OWN. Then no matter which player said it, and no matter what Kim said… the community will see all these players as racists. Can you hear the pots banging yet?

After a few minutes, everything seemed to calm down, he said. One of the women headed back into the house, saying she forgot her shoes. Days later, Bissey learned one of the young women reported being raped. "If I had called in the beginning, maybe the cops would have gotten there before this happened," he said. - Hankies having built sympathy for the “dancers”... let's quote all the neighbors willing to damn these players.
(Okay, here we bring in the neighbors to smear...if you get positive comments from anyone ... don't mention them. They don't fit our story!)

"Bissey and other neighbors are accustomed to hearing loud parties at the house. It's one of many rental houses near the Duke campus where police stay busy, breaking up rowdy parties and rounding up minors suspected of underage drinking." - Anger at rowdy boys building again. Idea that everyone hates them sets in to readers.

"Last fall, residents were worried about more than drunken antics and loud music. Many complained that students disregarded their neighbors and police, and were disrespectful when confronted." - More anger!!!

"Police have been called to the house at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd. four times since September, according to police records. The house is one of 15 properties the university bought in February to address neighborhood complaints. The university plans to sell the dwellings to quieter homeowners who agree not to rent them out." - Ha! Ha! They sure sound like a criminal element now! Why do we even need a trial?

"After hearing about the alleged rape, residents in neighborhoods around Duke sent e-mail to one another and police, criticizing landlords for tolerating an "Animal House" atmosphere." - ANIMAL HOUSE… perfect analogy! Think of the images that provides to our readers!

"Residents also questioned why police waited two days to search the house after the rape was reported." - Usually this indicates the police might have some credibility issues with the complaint. But we'll slide by this.

Addison, the police spokesman, said that between receiving the call and searching the house, police were interviewing the victim, residents of the house and other witnesses. He also explained that one team member was excluded from the DNA testing because he is black and therefore doesn't match the description of the suspects. - Interviewing the "victim"…"witnesses"… no presumption of innocence here…write like it's a done deal. We're driving home our point now and let's ignore the inherent contradiction between our use of the Stonewall of Silence and this description of interviewing the residents of the house as a cause for the delayed search. Never mind as well that the interview of the residents came AFTER the search began and could not, therefor, have been an excuse for the delay as Police Mis-spokesman Addison states.

The tests are scheduled to be sent to the State Bureau of Investigation in Raleigh for testing, and Durham authorities said they are trying to have the process expedited. - Uh-oh...big surprise coming...okay, off-topic...forget that.

"All that Duke officials can do, they say, is wait for the investigation to be completed.Art Chase, Duke sports information director, said lacrosse coach Mike Pressler and athletics department administrators had spoken with team captains about the incident. The department was not conducting an investigation of its own, Chase said." - mention of Captains cooperation with the police.

"I think they'll let the judicial system run its course," he said. - After this article, who needs the judicial system? Guilt is obvious. The girls are good; the boys are evil. Those points we made again and again.

"Chase said he was not sure of the occasion for the party. Players did not return phone calls, and their parents remained mum, as did Pressler. He and the team were preparing Friday for today's home game against Georgetown University." - Even their hideous parents wouldn't talk… throw that in too. Nice contrast to The Shy One's Dad at her bedside.

Paul Haagen, chairman of Duke's Academic Council, was in a faculty meeting about the incident.'This is sad'"There was a sense of, 'This is sad, and it's terrible,' " Haagen said. "Beyond that, people don't know what's going on." - This is" terrible"...even Duke hates these guys.

Haagen, a law professor who specializes in sports law, said studies show that violence against women is more prevalent among male athletes than among male students in general -- and higher still among such "helmet sports" as football, hockey and lacrosse. - Great finale…WOW!!!! Jocks are violent. Bring in the psycho babble. WHAT A PERFECT WRAP!
"These are sports of violence," he said. "This is clearly a concern." - "You're a dead man walking!" they yelled at Reade Seligmann. Mission accomplished.


Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Linda Williams did not detail the "actions" of the second dancer that the N&O felt necessary to omit.."because they were unsubstantiated." But pleases re-read two interesting blog posts by Melanie Sill.
In the first she stresses the importance of that first interview.."Her report is the basis for this case." In the second she says they "took care not to introduce any new allegations." Since the players were accused of anal, oral, and vaginal rape...robbery and is left to wonder what accusations were LEFT against them...? Naturally that spurs our curiosity and speculation.

The N&O refuses to explain.

"The next day we sought interviews with all the primary characters -- the woman who had reported being raped, police, prosecutors, the players, any others. We were able to track down the reported victim, an interview that is still the only one done with her, and reporting that is important because her report is the basis for this case."

Monday, April 3, 2006 "Our coverage was fair.

Public editors and executive editors are bound to disagree sometimes, so you might not be surprised that I don't agree with Ted Vaden's conclusion Sunday that it was unfair for The N&O to publish a front-page interview with the woman who reported being raped at a Duke lacrosse team party.

The story was published March 25, the day after we broke the news that more than 40 lacrosse team members had reported for DNA samples in the case under investigation by Durham police and the district attorney. We took care in editing the story not to introduce new accusations -- the basics were the same as in police reports, which had already been made public. In the interview, the woman told our reporter why she was at the party and what kind of work she did, among other details."

Anonymous said...

Amazing article. The Reporters of Durham have so much to be ashamed of.

J said...

Another interesting point

she "claims" she was unprepared to dance in front of such a "large" audience YET she worked at several clubs as a stripper?

Did she just do "private" dances?

Anonymous said...

The Police know and many people in Durham know. Brian Taylor even admitted he meet her when she was dancing in Clubs.

Anonymous said...

could you post this on the nando blog as well. they could use some good quality reporting over there

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know Linda Williams' background? Has she always worked at the N&O? What about the principal reporter who wrote the awful and inflammatory late March interview with the "victim?"

Anonymous said...

how was this inflammatory when it was an interview with the woman making the complaint? it was her version of events. and whether you like it or not, the neighbors and the lacrosse players and other duke students have a bad history together that the reporter was documenting, not making up. unfortunately for the lacrosse team, the previous problems are well documented in many stories in the n and o and the herald. there is in fact a 20 year history of loud partying and mouthing off to authorities when the police have arrived. if you do not believe the players' behavior was hated by their neighbors, drive thru trinity park and look at all the Nifong signs. oops, i forgot most of you can't as you are not local but are yankees like the accused.

Anonymous said...

It was inflammatory because the reporters and editors assumed the rape charge was true. Throughout one story, the N&O reporters referred to "the woman making the complaint" as "the victim" — not as the accuser or as the alleged victim. On the face of it, this was inflammatory. The story was inflammatory in fact and in tone.

Anonymous said...

what was inflammatory was when the spoiled duke brats called this woman a n----- b---- and told her to thank her grandfather for picking the cotton for her shirt and assaulted her. the story reported was heinous because their actions were heinous that night.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely no evidence exists that the Duke lacrosse players called the accuser the n-word and the b-word. No evidence exists that the players assaulted her. In fact, DNA results prove that they did not assault her. One person said he heard the cotton shirt remark. Loud parties are no excuse to falsely accuse someone of rape. Professor Coleman's report rebuts the accusation that the players were spoiled brats. Name-calling is no substitute for facts and knowledge.

Anonymous said...

too bad bissey contradicts your assertion that she was not called racial names. he definitely says they did and cheshire admitted that the lacrosse players used the n word at his first press conference.

Anonymous said...

MORE proof of the denial of the Sheriff's Office to take our complaints and requests! My God, they CANNOT get away with this!!!
Undeliverable: Mr Croft's death
"System Administrator" ..

Your message

To: Sheriff
Subject: Mr Croft's death
Sent: Thu, 13 Mar 2008 17:14:05 -0400

did not reach the following recipient(s):

Buchanan, Ricky on Sat, 15 Mar 2008 17:17:35 -0400
Could not deliver the message in the time limit specified. Please retry
or contact your administrator.
dcsnet01. DurhamSheriff. net 4.4.7

Where is our civil rights?!?!
Rhonda Fleming

Report: Easley press office ordered e-mails deleted
Mar 29, 2008

RALEIGH, N.C. -- State government public information officers were instructed by Gov. Mike Easley's press office to delete e-mails to and from the governor's office, according to notes released Saturday by the governor's office.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Saturday that Andrew A. Vanore Jr., a lawyer who works for Easley, produced notes made by two public information officers. The notes showed that they and others were told at a meeting on May 29, 2007, to destroy e-mails. A third public information officer said he also recalled those instructions.

But Vanore said the notes don't mean what they say. He also said the instructions were not followed.

Easley's chief legal counsel, Reuben F. Young, has been vacationing with his family in China and could not be reached for comment. Deputy press secretary Seth Effron has been instructed by Vanore not to comment.

Questions about the way the Easley administration handles e-mails arose after publication of an N&O series, "Mental Disorder: The Failure of Reform." The series reported on an ill-conceived and poorly executed mental health reform plan on which the state has wasted at least $400 million.

Two days after the series ended, Easley ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to fire its public information officer, Debbie Crane. Later that day, Crane told The N&O that the governor's press office had directed that e-mails be deleted to bypass the state's public records law.

Young and Effron quickly denied that such instructions had been given.

Julia Jarema, public information officer at the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, recorded this note for the meeting in question: "Public records request -- increasing careful of email delete emails to/from gov. office every day."

Diana Kees, public information officer at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, recorded this note: "emails - more & more public records requests (blogs?) be careful w/emails; delete emails to and from gov office every day."

Vanore said he did not know what the notes meant.

"It could be interpreted a number of different ways, and the only way to properly interpret it would be to talk to the individual who took the note," he said. But he said he had instructed all of the employees not to talk about that issue because the newspaper may file a lawsuit.

Vanore said the e-mail messages to and from the governor's press office were clear and irrefutable proof that there was no systematic intent to destroy e-mail.

Hugh Stevens, an attorney who represents The N&O, said the notes made by Jarema and Kees confirmed Crane's allegation.

"This sounds to me as though there was a concerted and willful attempt to evade the public records law by deleting the e-mails," he said. "I don't see how you can interpret it any other way."

Guess whose e-mails were deleted? OURS! I have had numerous people write to both Easley, and the Sheriff, for our case, and after being "blacklisted" from the county website and willingly negligent, here is more PROOF of the deliberate abuse of powers in public offices to purposely deny the public RIGHTS, and to perform MORE illegal and unconstitutional tactics to prevent being "OUTED!"


Rhonda Fleming

11:20 AM

Anonymous said...
Hello NC Courts, now what are YOU going to do about this little MISHAP?!?!

The TRUTHS will come forward!

3:38 PM

Anonymous said... (North Carolina Adminstrative Office Of The Courts)

North Carolina, Raleigh, United States, 17 returning visits

Date Time WebPage
30th March 2008 15:35:11

30th March 2008 15:36:01

30th March 2008 15:36:29

30th March 2008 15:37:02

Why don't you join the board and DO something instead of just watching! BASTARDS!