Friday, March 11, 2005

Noting Jodi Wilgoren

We're going to note Jodi Wilgoren in her own entry.

Today's paper contains her "Electrician Says in Suicide Note That He Killed Judge's Family."

We had two people (only one a member, the other self-defined as a visitor) noting throughout Wilgoren's coverage that she wasn't going after Alan Hale enough. He's an easy target and the temptation was there for readers and I'm sure for Wilgoren. She refrained from temptation and reported the story not via hype but based on what was known each step of the way. When there was speculation, it was presented by her as speculation. And she didn't use clever techniques to create the impression that speculation was ever more than that.

We might find out tomorrow that Hale was responsible. As it stands now Bart A. Ross appears to be the person responsible. Maybe he was working by himself, maybe he wasn't. Maybe he's responsible, maybe he isn't.

The Times has had a problem with rushing to convict. I'm really glad that the majority of the members who e-mailed during Wilgoren's coverage were able to note that though they thought the signs indicated Hale's involvement, they were glad Wilgoren was not falling into the trap of using the press to prosecute.

I don't know what Wilgoren will do next. I don't know whether this was her becoming interested in the power of the press again or an odd phase she was going through or something else. But she presented what was known as being known and what was speculation as being speculation. She also refrained from hyping up the observational details and turning the whole thing into melodrama.

It was good, strong reporting. There may be a follow up on Saturday or it may be several days or weeks before we hear more. But as someone who has blasted her (and will again if she clowns), I think it's worth noting that she turned in strong reporting worthy of praise. We'll also not that Gretchen Ruethling and David Bernstein made contributions to this series as well.