Thursday, November 27, 2014


You probably know about this:
Howard Kurtz has accused the New York Times of a "reckless move" in identifying the street on which Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson resides. "Journalism is full of close calls. This is not one of them. The Times should apologize," writes Kurtz.

On Monday, the Times published a scoop by Julie Bosman and Campbell Robertson reporting that Wilson had married fellow officer Barbara Spradling in a "quiet wedding" last month. It noted that the two "own a home together" and identified the town and the name of the street....
The Times responded that the information it published had previously been made public.
Philip Corbett, the paper's associate managing editor for standards, tells the Erik Wemple Blog via e-mail: "The Times did not ‘reveal’ anything here. The name of the street was widely reported as far back as August, including in the Washington Post."

The Post on Aug. 15 published an article on Wilson shortly after his name surfaced as the officer who’d killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. It noted the presence of "[d]ark blue unmarked police cars were parked outside his house" and mentioned the street name. A number of other outlets also traded in information about Wilson’s residence and it has been circulated on the Internet, of course.
But Snopes says it's not even a current address:
Wilson, 28, and Spradling, 37, married on 24 October 2014 in St. Louis County. The Times coverage included the following text:
Both Officer Wilson and Officer Spradling were previously married, public records indicate. His divorce was finalized on Nov. 10, 2013.

Officer Wilson and Officer Spradling own a home together on Manda Lane in Crestwood, Mo., a St. Louis suburb about a half-hour drive from Ferguson.
According to the paper, Wilson and Spradling vacated the premises shortly after the 9 August 2014 shooting:
They have scarcely been seen there since Mr. Brown was killed on Aug. 9. Neighbors said that within a few days of the shooting, Officer Wilson and Officer Spradling abruptly left their home.
So it's not where they're living now, according to Snopes.

Snopes thinks some of the anger is based on a misunderstanding:
Along with the content of the article, the paper included a picture of Wilson and Spradling's marriage license. While the image included an address, that address was not the Crestwood house formerly occupied by the couple; it was the address of a law firm in nearby Clayton, Missouri.

When the article drew scrutiny, the Times removed the image of Wilson and Spradling's marriage license and appended the following editor's note:
An earlier version of this post included a photograph that contained information that should not have been made public. The image has been removed.
That redaction led many readers to mistakenly believe the Times had published Wilson's current address and then withdrawn that information due to public protest, but the address published by the paper in the since-edited article was for a law firm and not for Wilson's residence.
So the addresses revealed were a former residence and a lawyer's office, not the current address, according to Snopes. And the former address has been known for months.

(Via Nicholas Kristof on Twitter.)

No comments: