Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good Old-Fashioned Reporting led to the Eliot Spitzer Story; Too Bad There Won't Be Enough Bay Area Reporters to Do the Same

The New York Times deconstructs how it uncovered the Eliot Spitzer prostitution ring story. The Times reporters got the information through good old-fashioned beat reporting. The Attorney General's office had sent out a press release announcing the break-up of a prostitution ring. There was nothing unusual about that. But reporters noticed that the lead prosecutor in court on March 6 was very high up in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office. That got people thinking.

“No one had talked of the escort ring’s inner workings, and certainly no one mentioned the governor’s name,” according to a story in the Times. “Just one fact piqued interest for some in the room: The lead prosecutor on the case was Boyd M. Johnson III, the chief of the public corruption unit of the Manhattan United States attorney’s office."

"Later that day, reporters at The New York Times learned of the unusual presence of three lawyers from the corruption unit, including the boss of that division and an F.B.I. agent from one of the bureau’s public corruption squads. The public corruption units often look at the conduct of elected officials."

"Within hours, the reporters were convinced that a significant public figure was involved as a client of the prostitution ring.”

That’s how reporters get stories. By being around and working sources. That’s the kind of gumshoe reporting that will now be missing all around the Bay Area as virtually every paper has slashed its staff to the bone.

No comments: