An Assembly of Pieces

James Anderson Merritt's piecemeal thoughts and observations, and the occasional attempt to put some of the pieces together.
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All material except cited quotations Copyright (C) 2004-2008 by James Anderson Merritt. All rights reserved.
Wednesday, May 22, 2002

I just wanted to thank Reuters reporter Alexander Ferguson for doing what AP apparently wouldn't do: paying attention to the basics of "Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How." Early headlines on the discovery of bones in a Washington park trumpeted that they "Could be Chandra Levy's." Looking around, I found essentially the same story at the websites for various news organizations, including CNN, Fox News, The San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and others. Even when sites published their own original reporting, it was generally mixed in with the AP story. And in no case was the obvious question addressed: "What leads authorities to believe (or how can they be sure) it is Chandra?" Then, I found Ferguson's piece for Reuters, which told us that Chandra's identity had been confirmed by dental records. C'mon folks. Was that so hard? Thanks again, Reuters. (By the way, I notice that and other websites have caught up in the hour or so since I got the idea to post this blog entry. You have to ask yourself, was it because they finally got hold of proper facts, or because they were peeking at what the competition was doing?)

I am very sad that Chandra's story ended this way. The least the media can do is relate the latest facts correctly. The obituary tone of the articles I've read so far suggests that the media are ready to close the book on this story. Yet I suspect that there is an even larger story here, if any news organization had the chops to dig for it. But with all due respect, the best we've seen so far is Reuters' grasp of the basics, ironically commendable in this age of slipshod work.


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