Democracy Has Prevailed.

May 14, 2009

City Paper Update

Oh, I'll say it on the record: Go read Chris Potter.

He may have completely sold out whatever remnants of "cool" he may once have had when he cut off his more than shoulder length hair (and I say that as someone who also has no claim to any cool AND who cut off his shoulder length hair more than 15 years ago) but he's worth the trip to the stacks of the City Paper in the corner of the coffee shop - despite the creepy American Apparel ads on the back cover.

That having been said, I was struck with something he posted today:
Apologies for the delay in this blog post. It's been a sort of surreal few days. I mean, it's not every week that Marty Freakin' Griffin takes time away from investigating ministers' sex lives to accuse us of disregarding people's privacy.
Chris is being far too kind - but let's dive deeper into his initial point about Marty Griffin.

This article, by Melissa Meinzer.

It tells the story about Paster Brent Dugan a local Presbyterian minister who committed suicide in 2006 rather than face life after being confronted by none other than KDKA's own Marty Griffin:
In the days prior to [Dugan's] death, KDKA-TV had been running teasers for a story about him, a story set to air Thu., Nov. 2. The snippets never named Dugan, but he was clearly visible on Pittsburgh screens -- being confronted by investigative reporter Marty Griffin at a McKeesport adult bookstore.
Here in a nutshell was what Dugan faced:
During the last days of October, KDKA started running teasers in which Griffin confronted Dugan about his visit to an adult-book store. The promos never made clear what Dugan had allegedly done wrong: Griffin would later tell viewers that the station had "uncovered illicit, possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities which at the very least violated the rules of his denomination."
Here's what Dennis Roddy had to say about Marty Griffin back then:
Marty Griffin, the go-for-broke reporter who worked the story was quoted saying that Rev. Dugan's behavior, if not illegal, might have violated the rules of his church.

While it is gratifying to know that KDKA has taken on the job of enforcing rules for the Presbyterian Church, it might have been nicer to know just what of public interest lay in the decision to pursue a story that turned out to be fatal to a subject who must have surprised everyone by feeling ashamed. KDKA, which presumably thought it necessary for the public to know about Rev. Dugan's sex life, has gone rather mute.

Meinzer had some interesting footnotes to Griffin's Dugan story:
In 1997, Griffin's then-employer, Dallas station KXAS-TV Channel 5, paid a reported $2.2 million to settle a defamation suit arising from a story Griffin aired about Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin. In that story, a topless dancer accused Irvin of participating in a rape with two other men -- accusations she later recanted, and which resulted in perjury charges against her.
Then there's this:
Griffin also conducted a hidden-camera investigation of Irvin's purported drug-buying activities, a story for which KXAS paid an informant $6,000. The station admitted no wrongdoing in the 1997 settlement, which Griffin opposed.
Yea, Griffin is the guy to lecture Chris Potter and the City Paper on respecting privacy. I'll let Potter explain what they were trying to do:
We were seeking an explanation about how and why the court gave the Scaifes a courtesy the average divorcing couple doesn't get: the ability to have their dirty laundry aired only in secret.

This is Journalism 101, even if Griffin doesn't recognize it: If somebody says you can't get access to files or meetings that are ordinarily public, you ask why.
Short haired Potter.

1 comment:

Clyde Wynant said...

Chris Potter, as the young folks say, "totally rocks" or "is the bomb," or whatever the current parlance is.

What's amazing is that he writes for a "minor" publication. If the P-G and all those other dinosaurs want to know why they can't keep an audience, it's because they don't have this sort of talent (or not nearly enough of it) writing for them every day!

As to TV "journalists?" There is no such thing...