The main story on Saturday’s front-page C-J was that parents in Pleasure Ridge Park have called the paper and complained that kids are being retaliated against for their testimony against Coach Jason Stinson. This story, placed more prominently than the Rick Pitino-Karen Sypher business, provided no details on what the retaliation was or who were the sources of the charges.
It was planted by Todd Thompson, the attorney for the late Max Gilpin’s parents, and the C-J went along for the ride.
We’ve got a problem with the reporting, and want to know why the newspaper would protect parents calling in with complaints by hiding their identity. Here’s a passage from the piece:
The Courier-Journal has received several calls from PRP parents who said their children were being retaliated against because of the statements they gave police. They asked not to be named.
First of all, there’s no journalistic justification for reporting allegations without identifying the accuser. We can just look at the same day’s paper — the paper’s got plenty of ammo from Karen Sypher, but chooses to protect Rick Pitino by refusing, on ethics grounds, to publish her charges. But it has no hesitation in using an unnamed source making unfounded claims involving a high school football coach. How about at least telling us how many parents are complaining?
Here’s why — because there aren’t that many.
Read the Rest After the Jump…
Does it make you wonder about the paper’s source, just a little bit, when you consider that the parent(s) involved apparently didn’t call a single TV station, and didn’t contact JCPS with these retaliation charges? Is it too weird that the topic came up only when JCPS superintendent Sheldon Berman was being questioned by the attorney for the parents involved in suing the Stinson and the school system?
As long as the C-J is protecting those making charges, we really don’t know if C-J reporter Toni Konz is actually getting calls from parents. She throws in, at the bottom of the story, additional allegations about fund-raising practices that we know are false. It’s interesting that these sources are allowed to vent their frustrations in print despite repeated denials from the officials involved. All while hiding behind anonymity granted by the newspaper.
Besides, our investigation into this indicates that there are very few (like, maybe one) players whose testimony reflects negatively on Coach Stinson and who might be the target of this so-called retaliation. We hear that only six players could have been targeted based on their testimony — a few were seniors and one was suspended from participation in spring drills. The point being that the newspaper could have easily figured out who the players involved were. And if their parents want to influence the coverage of the case, they should have the courage to make their accusations public.
The paper goes further, protecting more parents from identifying themselves while repeating additional charges against the school.
Several other parents who have contacted the newspaper said they are concerned that fundraising is being done during school hours to raise money for Stinson’s defense and that their children are being encouraged to wear T-shirts supporting Stinson.
This doesn’t have anything to do with whether you think Stinson is guilty of a crime or not. But as a result of its reporting, we don’t have any doubt where the C-J stands.