Friday, May 06, 2005

Chicago Tribune using new style book in covering its own libel trial?

As I mentioned in the last post, the Chicago Tribune is being sued for libel, and its editors made the very odd decision to place an article about the opening day of that trial in its business section.

There's more. A friend of the blog just tipped me off that typical fashion in covering opening arguments in a civil case, the Tribune, as do most newspapers, will begin the story with the plaintiff's side of the case--not the defendant's. Just as the Sun-Times did today in its coverage of the story, "Ex-prosecutor accuses Trib of witch-hunt"

The beginning paragraph (from the Metro Section)

When a prosecutor told a crime lab employee, "Don't discuss this with anyone," was it fair for the Chicago Tribune to paraphrase that as the prosecutor telling him to "keep his mouth shut?"

The Chicago Tribune, whose coverage of this story has been doused with terms such "innocent error" or "honest mistake," breaks this general precedent by beginning its article with the defendant's side, that is, the Chicago Tribune's side of the story.

From of the Chicago Tribune, (Business Section)`Innocent mistake,' Tribune contends`Witch hunt,' alleges plaintiff in libel trial, here is that first paragraph:

In opening statements at the Chicago Tribune's first libel trial in nearly four decades, attorneys for the newspaper said it made an innocent editing mistake in a story about alleged misconduct by a former prosecutor.

No comments: