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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Duke Case — Filling Space

Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space.
Rebecca West (1892 - 1983)
Today's items:

Melanie SillMelanie Sill / The Editor's Blog / News & Observer:
KC and N&O -- Durham in Wonderland blogger K.C. Johnson paid a visit to The N&O during his local tour promoting "Until Proven Innocent," a book coauthored by Johnson and National Journal writer Stuart Taylor Jr. Later he spoke at Duke.

In the book and on his blog, Johnson has criticized The N&O on some points and praised and linked to us on others. During an hour-long chat with reporters and editors, the Brooklyn College prof shared some thoughts on the relative strengths and advantages of blogs and traditional journalism. My column this Sunday will draw on this discussion and other thinking about blogs and journalism. I don't endorse Johnson's opinions (or oppose them) or his blog, but I think his experience and ours in covering this story demonstrate how traditional and nontraditional forms can play off each other in ways that end up improving the flow of information.

I think Johnson's blog had more credibility than most other Duke lacrosse boards for a few reasons. First, it wasn't anonymous. Johnson's name and credentials support his opinions. Second, Johnson did research and brought original information forward on occasion. (Other blogs did introduce information as well, though usually anonymously, offering tips rather than verified detail) Third, Johnson worked hard and consistently, and he corrected errors that were pointed out. [...]
comment: The professional journalists at the N&O have filled their space with some of the best and some of the worst reporting of the Duke lacrosse story. Comparing their credibility to KC Johnson is like comparing spittle to scotch.
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Book Review / The Economist:
Presumed guilty -- A superb new book shows how trumped-up charges exposed faults in some of America's grandest institutions [...]
discussion:
Daveinboca / The Minority Report blog:
Duke Faculty Refuses to Apologize and Smirking Has a Course on The Rape Case called "Hooking Up at Duke" -- a joke of a program hosted by a contemptible liar named Nancy Grace still inflicts itself on mindless ears nightly on CNN, despite months of lies by the porcine eponymous nutjob accusing the three indicted lacrosse players of even more crimes than they committed. No apologies and no mention of the fact that the DA she so arduously defended ended up going to jail and being kicked out of the bar. While this sow hides behind the First Amendment, CNN refuses to yank her, proving that an Eason Jordan fantasy world still leaves remnants of insanity and dishonesty on-air while A. Cooper and Beck bring a tad of reality back into the CNN playlist. [Larry King is in a parallel universe!]

Stuart's book is named Until Proved Innocent, and the review in the Economist is linked above. Below is the Economist's summary [the magazine actually joined the witch hunt for a short while] of the despicable collection of frauds and impostors laughingly called the Duke "faculty:" [...]

KC Johnson:
Economist on UPI
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Bill Cotterell Book review / Tellahassee.com
Books examine lessons of Duke lacrosse case -- Brodhead seems to symbolize everything weak-kneed about academia. When Duke's faculty bullies and the self-conscious radicals of the student body behaved like the mob in "The Oxbow Incident," Brodhead seemed intent on providing Yaeger with a title - "It's Not About the Truth."

Yaeger is a lobbyist and former reporter for the Florida Times Union and Sports Illustrated. His is a more journalistic effort, recounting a known story with telling human insights from participants like Pressler, while Taylor and Johnson take a more lawyerly approach to the Duke case.

They put it in the perspective of 1960s radicalism, recalling an era when universities happily caved in to demands by radical feminists and ethnic minority groups. Universites all over the country get what they deserve, sloppy scholarship by professors whose politics precludes even the pretense of intellectual inquiry.

Citing New York Times reporter Richard Bernstein's 1995 book, "Dictatorship of Virtue," Taylor and Johnson note that "in the era of political correctness and craven university administrations, the charge of racism, unsubstantiated but accompanied by a few demonstrations and angry rhetorical perorations, suffices to paralyze a campus, to destroy a reputation and to compel an administration into submission." [...]
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LieStoppers:
Stuart Taylor Jr. speaks at the CATO Institute -- Stuart Taylor Jr. ,Senior Writer, National Journal, and coauthor with Professor KC Johnson of Until Proven Innocent spoke Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at the CATO Institute.
related:
KC Johnson:
Book News -- Stuart [Taylor] will be speaking tomorrow at William & Mary, in a forum on prosecutorial misconduct and the Duke lacrosse case. He’ll be joined by legal luminaries (and Duke Law professors) Jim Coleman, Erwin Chemerinsky, and Walter Dellinger. The event runs from 2.00pm-3.00pm.
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Duke Chronicle:

News & Observer:
Prof too divisive for deanship?

Duke Basketball Report:
Letter-Writers On The Prospect Of Durham Being Sued
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KC Johnson:
The Path Not Taken
discussion:
LS forum: Is the black community really this childish?
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Herald-Sun:
Durham must take responsibility
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Thom Weidlich book review / Bloomberg News:
Explosive Duke Lacrosse Rape Case Retold in Disturbing Detail -- It's [UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT] loosely organized, repetitive and not great as storytelling. The only time your heart races is during the Dec. 15 hearing when defense lawyers get Meehan to admit he and Nifong agreed to withhold DNA results.

These blots may be products of the speed with which they wrote: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who took over the investigation from Nifong, declared the players innocent only this past April 11.

Other defects go deeper. Downplaying Mangum's bipolar disorder diminishes the tragedy. She may have believed her ever-shifting accounts about what happened that March night, which is why Cooper said he wouldn't pursue charges against her. It isn't clear the authors tried to interview her.

Worse, as their subtitle, "Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case," suggests, they wield the event to lambaste what they see as the rise of PC-thinking on college campuses. Large swaths could have come from any other left-bashing tome going back to Allan Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind." [...]

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