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Archive for the ‘Updated lessons from old stories’ Category

Headline from a 2002 story for the Omaha World-Herald

Headline from a 2002 story for the Omaha World-Herald

I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it would be for survivors of sexual abuse by priests to watch “Spotlight.” It was plenty uncomfortable for me as a reporter who merely had the unpleasant job of interviewing survivors and telling their stories.

I saw “Spotlight” last weekend and comment on the movie in a separate post. My point here will be to share lessons I learned in my own experience covering sexual abuse by priests and other religious leaders both before and after the 2002 Boston Globe stories that inspired “Spotlight.”

I don’t mean by any of this to compare my work to the heroic work of the Globe’s Spotlight team. While I was writing about sexual abuse by an abusive priest, and an archdiocese moving a pedophile from church to church, more than three years before the Globe’s story, I didn’t nail the story of institutional cover-up that they did. Much of my later reporting was prompted by the national public response to the Globe’s reporting.

I hope that “Spotlight” doesn’t generate a similar outpouring of stories of abuse. I hope that they’ve all been told and that the Catholic church has rid itself of the sin and crime that it was hiding.

Lasting trauma inflicted by priestFirst an overview of my experience in covering religious sexual abuse: Starting in the 1990s, I investigated sexual abuse by at least nine Catholic priests that I can recall, plus at least one Protestant minister, a leader of a Christian cult and a group-home counselor at a Catholic youth services organization. In most cases, I interviewed multiple survivors of abuse by the powerful men I investigated. I’m sure I talked to at least 20 survivors of sexual abuse by clergy and the counselor, usually in person but a few times by phone. Other survivors that I learned about would not talk to me. I interviewed two accused molesters.

I almost certainly am forgetting other clergy that I investigated. The stories run together in my memory, and I don’t have time or interest to dig through my old stories to refresh and clarify some of the most disgusting memories of my career. Watching the movie and writing this blog post were disturbing enough.

I am not going to name priests, victims or specific organizations here. To do so would require research to update their status, and I don’t want to do that, both because of the time it would take and because all the stories are more than a decade old. I don’t want to track down and bother the courageous survivors who were my sources then. My interviews disturbed many of them at the time, and I have no interest in inflicting new pain by publishing their names again or updating their current situations.

This blog post is illustrated with headlines from the stories I wrote about these cases more than a decade ago. In a couple of instances, I have cut off the last word or two of a headline to leave out the priest’s name.

Here are my lessons about covering abuse by clergy and others with power over children and adolescents (shared in the hope this topic never again needs to be as big a story as it was back then):

Find other victims of the same predator

Priest Sexual abuse was reported years ago

A key to proving patterns of abuse is finding multiple victims of one abuser. A pedophile invariably has a pattern of abuse: techniques for “grooming” a potential victim before the abuse starts; introducing sex to the relationship by use of pornography or sex talk or nudity in a seemingly non-sexual way, such as showering on campouts or in locker rooms; similar ways of starting and accelerating the molestation; favorite sexual activities; silencing the victim with rewards, conspiratorial secrecy, shaming and/or intimidation. (more…)

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NYT marriage front page

A photo that appeared in only one edition of the Des Moines Register in 2000.

A photo that appeared in only one edition of the Des Moines Register in 2000.

Fifteen years ago, a story I wrote about gays in the ministry was illustrated by a photograph of a former Lutheran pastor kissing his male partner.

It was the second installment of a three-part, page-one series, “Testing Faith,” so lots of editors read the stories and looked over the photos before publication. But when the first edition of the Monday paper rolled off the press Sunday night, an editor I won’t name here had a fit. We had a photo of two men kissing in the newspaper!

That apparently would be too much for Iowans to handle, in the view of this editor, and other editors had to tear up the front page, move a nice photograph from the front-page display (an excellent portrait of the former pastor) inside, place a standalone wire photo on the front page and kill the photo of men kissing, which had anchored the jump page. The before and after pages are below: (more…)

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Page one, Omaha World-Herald, June 15, 1997I wrote this story in June 1997 for the Omaha World-Herald. At the time, President Bill Clinton was trying to focus the nation’s attention on addressing its racial divide, through a program called “One America in the 21st Century: The President’s Initiative on Race.”

We can argue here how much Clinton’s own sexual scandal and impeachment sidetracked any progress he might have made, and how much the election of Barack Obama 11 years later (and re-election four more years after that) advanced race relations and heightened the racial divide. But, as racially tinged police relations explode in city after city, and commentary about race is as polarized as ever, the racial divide is again our nation’s most pressing issue.

I present this story as a model for any journalist examining today’s racial divide. I think it was an excellent story at the time, though it had little impact. I hope you might have more impact with an updated approach, and perhaps a broader digital reach or a bigger microphone today.

This was a long story (actually, a package of multiple stories), made longer by my updating notes. If you’re considering a deeper examination of the racial divide, I hope it will be worth your time to work your way through it.

I will present the story as we published it in 1997, interspersed with recommendations today for data reporting, engagement, interactivity and updating to address how the issues have changed (if they have). The paragraphs from the Omaha World-Herald will be presented in plain text. My notes will be introduced in bold as a “Buttry note” of some kind, with the note following in light italics, either a few words or a few paragraphs.

I have posted the 1997 graphics with the relevant parts of the story. Doing it today, interactive data visualization would be an essential part of the story. At the end of this post, you can see how it was displayed 18 years ago. Sources were cited in a large block of type included with the graphic package.

From Birth to Death, Racial Gap Persists

Originally published June 15, 1997, Sunday, Pg. 1A, Omaha World-Herald

By STEPHEN BUTTRY

WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

Starting before birth, a black child faces longer odds against survival and success than a white child. (more…)

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Leading my workshop on Making Routine Stories Special. Photo by Bryan Cantley

Leading my workshop on making routine stories special. Photo by Bryan Cantley

I’m updating some old workshop handouts that I think will be helpful in teaching journalism, maybe in some of my classes, maybe in some of yours. “Make routine stories special” was my most popular workshop about a decade ago, when most of my training focused on traditional writing, reporting and editing skills as well as leadership.

In a meeting of Digital First Media editors in New Haven last year, Tony Adamis of the Daily Freeman in Kingston, N.Y., suggested that some tips in improving coverage of routine news would be helpful, and I promised to dust off this handout and update it. Well, that evening I learned about upcoming upheaval at Digital First Media that would bring the end of my job. So it took me a while to get around to it, but here it is.

What I’ve done here is grab an old copy of my workshop handout from those days, dated April 2003, update it with some newer tips on making routine stories special and add some links. I’ll also update references to the journalists who provided some advice for this workshop when I was doing it originally more than a decade ago and provide links, where I could find them, to the journalists today. Where I could not learn what some journalists are doing today, I have cut them out.

In most cases, I could not find the stories referenced still online, but I’ve linked to stories where I could. I welcome your help in updating this with new stories and links illustrating these techniques as well as new tips for covering routine stories.

After my tips, I’ll tell the anecdote I used to use in the workshops, a story involving the cap I’m wearing in the photo above. So here are my updated tips for making routine stories special: (more…)

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Mikhail Gorbachev and Steve Buttry

I’ve used this photo for years in various places where professional photos of me would be appropriate. I’m the one with the notebook. Photo by Kent Sievers.

I’ve written dozens, if not hundreds, of better stories than the story about my 2002 interview with Mikhail Gorbachev. But the photo that my Omaha World-Herald colleague Kent Sievers gave me after that interview has long been one of my favorite photos of me on the job.

As you can see above, Gorby and I both have very serious looks on our faces and I’m busily scribbling his words in a reporter’s notebook.

I use that shot as my cover photo on my journalist page and in the account of my journalism career on this blog.

I think I asked Kent at some point (no doubt before I had a scanner) for a digital copy of the photo. He couldn’t find it, so I got the photo scanned and posted it wherever I wanted online.

Well, Kent is archiving some of his old photos and found his shots of me with Gorby. I got an email this week with other photos from that day.

When Mimi saw the photo of us shaking hands, she said, “Look at all that hair! Look how thin you are! Look at the pens sticking out of your pocket.” Yeah, thanks, honey, I get it. That was a while ago.

Mikhail Gorbachev and I greet each other, March 14, 2002.

Mikhail Gorbachev and I greet each other, March 14, 2002. Photo by Kent Sievers.

I was interviewing Gorby at an Omaha hotel, before a speech there. I can’t remember whether it was a public speech that a colleague covered or a private gathering with no press access. I know he was in Nebraska for a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to be covered by a colleague in the Lincoln bureau.

I had to show up a half hour or so before our appointed time at the hotel conference room where I would interview Gorbachev. I knew he would have an interpreter with him. The room had a couple of plush easy chairs  flanking a lamp on an end table. Several standard padded conference-room chairs were scattered around the room, too. I carefully arranged the two easy chairs cocked at a slight angle to each other, facing me in a standard chair.

After that handshake, I gestured for Gorby to sit in one of the plush chairs. Ignoring me, he grabbed my standard chair. The interpreter sat in one of the plush chairs. I pivoted my chair slightly but spent the whole interview sitting in an awkward position between the man I was interviewing and his interpreter.

Steve Buttry interviewing Mikhail Gorbachev, March 14, 2002

I’m sitting in what should have been Gorbachev’s chair. At right is his interpreter, Pavel Palazhchenko. Photo by Kent Sievers.

Gorbachev’s interpreter, Pavel Palazhchenko, translated his comments simultaneously. When one person is talking to you in your own language and one is speaking a language you don’t understand, the natural reaction is to look at the person you can understand. I did that for a question or two, but quickly realized I was having no eye contact and little engagement with the subject of my interview. When I turned to look at Gorbachev, while listening to Palazhchenko, the interview started going much better.

Generally when I blog here about old stories, I discuss how I’d do the story differently today, often explaining how I’d use video in the story. I’m sure Kent would have been able to do a good video of Gorby’s visit to Nebraska, but the interview, with simultaneous interpretation, would not have made good audio, because of the confusing audio of people speaking simultaneously. It might work with a lapel mic on Palazhchenko, so his words would be louder and clearer than Gorbachev’s.

Steve Buttry interviewing Mikhail Gorbachev, March 14, 2002

Took me a question or two, but I figured out the eye-contact thing. Photo by Kent Sievers.

Hell, the interview went well enough that Gorby signaled a touchdown.

Steve Buttry interviews Mikhail Gorbachev, March 14, 2002

Gorbachev grew more animated as the interview went on and I connected well with him across the language barrier. Photo by Kent Sievers.

Thanks to Kent, one of the best photographers I’ve been privileged to work with, for sending along the photos. Kent’s also an accomplished writer, author of the novel Little Man.

What I remember most from what Gorbachev said in the interview was how moved he was by his visit to Ground Zero. Reading my stories 12 years later, I wish our nation’s leaders had heeded his advice in 2002.

Below is my first story, banged out quickly for the evening edition of the World-Herald on March 14, 2002 (as I discussed yesterday, reporters at evening newspapers get adept at turning a story around quickly for a late-morning deadline). Thanks to World-Herald librarian Jeanne Hauser for sending me these stories:

Ex – Soviet president visits Omaha

The United States must continue to work with other nations in the war on terrorism, rather than taking unilateral action, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said Wednesday.

In an interview before the first of two Nebraska speeches, Gorbachev criticized President Bush’s characterization of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”

“Barbecuing countries and lumping together countries that are so different is not proper policy,” Gorbachev said. “It is more like literary rhetoric.”

For instance, he noted that secular leaders in Iran are in a power struggle with the Muslim clerics who have ruled since the late 1970s. “When the Iranians hear that they are part of an ‘axis of evil’ this could unite them in the face of danger,” Gorbachev said.

Speaking through an interpreter at the Doubletree Hotel in Omaha, the former Soviet leader urged the United States to continue working through the United Nations to seek inspections to verify that Iraq is not producing weapons of mass destruction.

“Let us not start by bombing, by waging war, by doing battle,” Gorbachev said, gesturing for emphasis. “If we go recklessly into war, this could lead to a situation that could go out of control completely.”

Gorbachev, who twice visited the World Trade Center in New York, was deeply moved by his visit Monday to Ground Zero.

“It brought back very vividly what happened on Sept. 11,” he said. He watched on television in his Moscow office as the plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center. Gorbachev did not leave his office until 4 a.m., almost 10 hours after the attack.

“It was something incredible and unreal, like a Hollywood movie.”

He was especially moved in Monday’s visit by photographs of the victims and their families, especially those who left behind young children. “One could imagine the trauma that these people are living.”

The visit reinforced his support for military action against the al-Qaida terrorist network and for long – term action to fight poverty, which he said is the ultimate cause of terrorism.

He also noted the many nationalities of the people who died in the World Trade Center and stressed the importance of international action against the terrorists.

“It’s very important,” Gorbachev said, “to preserve the unity that emerged out of this.”

Omaha World-Herald story on Steve Buttry interview with Mikhail Gorbachev

Omaha World-Herald story on Steve Buttry interview with Mikhail GorbachevThis is my longer story for the final morning edition (pictured above):

Gorbachev to U.S.: Don’t be reckless

In an emotional visit to Ground Zero on Monday, Mikhail Gorbachev noted the many nationalities of the people who died at the World Trade Center.

“The workers there represented practically the entire world,” Gorbachev said Wednesday in an interview before the first of two Nebraska speeches.

Photographs of the victims of the Sept. 11 attack underscored his belief “that we needed to unite in the face of this kind of attack, this kind of merciless aggression by international terrorists.”

The last president of the Soviet Union discussed the war on terrorism and other world issues in a half-hour interview at the Doubletree Hotel in Omaha, with translation by his aide Pavel Palazhchenko.

Gesturing frequently for emphasis, Gorbachev praised the United States for developing international support for the war on terrorism and encouraged Americans to continue working with other nations as the fight proceeds.

“It’s important to preserve the unity that emerged out of this,” he said. “I think the solidarity helped the American people to go through this trial.”

Gorbachev twice visited the World Trade Center when it was a symbol not of tragedy but “of the achievements of America.”

Monday’s visit, on the six – month anniversary of the attack, “brought back very vividly what happened on Sept. 11,” he said.

He had watched on television in his office at the Gorbachev Foundation in Moscow as the plane hit the second tower of the World Trade Center. Gorbachev did not leave his office until 4 a.m., almost 10 hours after the attack. “It was something incredible and unreal, like a Hollywood movie, and it was a shock.”

He was especially moved in this week’s visit by seeing photographs of children whom the victims left behind. “One could imagine the trauma that these people are living.”

While Gorbachev supported the military response against terrorists, he cautioned against “what I call a victory complex, a superiority complex.”

In the apparent victory in Afghanistan over Taliban and al-Qaida forces, “The United States played a decisive role, but it was not alone,” Gorbachev said. “It would be better to be affected by a different complex, a partnership complex.”

He criticized President Bush’s characterization of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”

“Barbecuing countries and lumping together countries that are so different is not proper policy. It is more like literary rhetoric,” Gorbachev said.

He noted that secular leaders in Iran are in a power struggle with the Muslim clerics who have ruled since the late 1970s. “When the Iranians hear that they are part of an ‘axis of evil,’ this could unite them all in the face of what they would feel is danger.”

Gorbachev said Bush’s statement might hurt efforts to unite North and South Korea.

Gorbachev urged the United States to continue working through the United Nations to seek inspections to verify that Iraq is not producing weapons of mass destruction.

“Let us not start by bombing, by waging war, by doing battle,” he said. “If we go recklessly into war, this could lead to a situation that would go out of control completely.”

The war on terrorism must go beyond military battles and attack the root cause, Gorbachev said.

“It is very important to put an end to the situation where half of the population of the world lives in dire poverty. If we think that we can fight poverty with the help of aircraft, tanks, missiles and artillery, that we can defeat terrorism just by waging war, that is wrong.”

With end of the arms race, he said, “we released resources that we hoped after the end of the Cold War would be used to fight poverty and backwardness.”

Instead, he said, a recent U.N. report showed that “the number of poor people has not diminished. It has actually increased, and the gap between the rich and poor countries has grown significantly.”

Gorbachev was disturbed by news reports last weekend that the Pentagon is developing plans for possible nuclear – war scenarios involving Russia and six other nations. He cautioned against reacting too strongly to leaks and partial information, and he said the disclosure could harm relations with other nations.

“On the one hand,” Gorbachev said, “the United States and Russia and other nuclear powers demand that other countries don’t develop nuclear weapons. The United States wants nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the United States in this way is brandishing nuclear weapons.

“It smacks of the Cold War again.”

And here’s one more story, the Sunday story I wrote in advance of his visit:

Gorbachev reviled, revered for role in Soviet Union’s fall

In the friendly heart of America, admirers snap up tickets to hear Mikhail Gorbachev as though he was a rock star, not the former leader of the “evil empire.”

In his chilly Russian homeland, though, Gorbachev won less than 1 percent of the vote when he ran for president in 1996.

The final leader of the Soviet Union, who will visit Nebraska this week for two speeches before packed houses in Omaha and Lincoln, is a paradox in his own time and in history.

“Most people in the United States view him as a hero,” said James McClelland, retired University of Nebraska – Lincoln history professor. “But most people in Russia view him as a failure.”

More than a decade after his fall, Gorbachev stands virtually alone in history: universally regarded as a giant of his age but one who presided over the collapse of a great power rather than its rise or dominance.

“He unleashed currents that he couldn’t control,” said Peter Tomsen, ambassador-in-residence at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Many Russians still blame Gorbachev for their nation’s economic woes, but the Soviet economy was in disarray when he became general secretary of the Communist Party in 1985.

The two aged leaders who served short tenures after the 18-year reign of Leonid Brezhnev did nothing to improve the mighty empire’s many crises: factories that actually detracted from the value of raw materials, an agricultural system that could not feed the population, a protracted war in Afghanistan, a costly arms race.

Recognizing the need for change, but unable to imagine the transformation that lay ahead, the Communist Party leaders chose the 54-year-old Gorbachev as their next leader.

“The Politburo turned to the youngest member, and they got a joker who wasn’t going to play by the usual rules,” said Tomsen, a career diplomat who served in Moscow in the late 1970s. Tomsen was ambassador to the former Soviet republic of Armenia in the 1990s and was stationed in Beijing when Gorbachev visited in 1989, during the famed demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Charles Timberlake, Russian history professor at the University of Missouri, said if U.S. leaders had compiled their wildest-dreams wish list in 1985, they wouldn’t have included everything that would happen under the new Soviet leader: ending socialism, halting the arms race, withdrawing from Afghanistan, dropping support for the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, stopping censorship and breaking up the socialist bloc in Eastern Europe. And, finally, the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Nobody could even possibly have imagined a wilder scenario than that, even in the CIA,” said Timberlake, who lectured annually in Russia from 1992 to 2000.

Gorbachev’s early reign included the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant that killed thousands and exposed millions to radiation. He later said the government was “short of information” about the disaster. Critics said he suppressed information.

“To those who were exposed to radiation, that remains a reason to hate him,” said Cathy Wanner, a Penn State history professor who was in the Soviet Union during perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness).

To attract Western investment and divert resources from arms production, Gorbachev had to end the Cold War and the arms race with the United States. “He had to convince the West that he was a leader that could be trusted,” Timberlake said.

Gorbachev charmed President Reagan, who had condemned the Soviet Union under Brezhnev as an “evil empire.” Gorbachev and Reagan negotiated actual reductions in nuclear arsenals.

At home, Gorbachev sought to unleash the productivity and creativity of his nation’s oppressed people. Through perestroika and glasnost, he took initial steps toward allowing free enterprise and expression.

The Soviet reformer thought that he could loosen the reins of totalitarianism but still maintain a grip. “He wildly misjudged the extent to which you can have a little censorship,” Wanner said. “For those who were aching for reform, his reforms were seen as not going far enough.”

To communist hard-liners, the reforms were heresy. Much of the time, observers feared Gorbachev’s demise. He survived, McClelland said, by “playing the party apparatus like a violin.”

Citizens loved the taste of freedom and hungered for more.

McClelland recalls studying in Moscow under earlier regimes, when Russian friends feared visiting him or talking to him on the phone. “During glasnost, my friends visited me in my hotel room. We just talked about anything, not in whispers and not looking around.”

To his admirers, Gorbachev’s greatest achievement was his restraint as the Berlin Wall came down, Eastern European countries ousted communist leaders and Soviet republics pushed for independence. Past Soviet leaders used the Red Army to smash efforts to reform communism in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

“Gorbachev could have brought out troops to try to keep the union together and he did not,” McClelland said. “That’s one of the miracles of his whole rule.”

Tomsen noted, “This is one of the few times in history, and certainly the most significant, when you had the collapse of one major power bloc without a major war.”

Hard-liners tried to regain power in an August 1991 coup while Gorbachev was at his vacation home. Russian President Boris Yeltsin thwarted the coup, but the demise of the Soviet Union and Gorbachev’s power was by then inevitable.

By the end of 1991, Tomsen said, “Gorbachev was without a government and without a country.”

I did a timeline sidebar for that story. Today, of course, we’d use a tool such as Timeline JS to put together an interactive timeline, incorporating photos and videos.

Man of history

1952: Mikhail Gorbachev joins Communist Party.

1978 – 1985: Serves as agriculture secretary of the party.

1985: Becomes general secretary of the Communist Party.

1986: Initiates a period of political openness (glasnost) and restructuring (perestroika).

1987: Signs arms limitation treaty with United States.

1989: Ends Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

1990: Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1990 – 91: Serves as president of the Soviet Union until its disintegration.

1992: Becomes president of the International Foundation for Socio-Economic and Political Studies (the Gorbachev Foundation).

1993: Founds nonprofit organization, Green Cross International

Sources: Green Cross International Web site: http://www.gci.ch and the Mikhail Gorbachev Web site: http://www.mikhailgorbachev.org.

 

 

 

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Lawrence Phillips photo linked from Bleacher Report

Some sources won’t talk to you unless you grant them confidentiality because they fear for their safety. Journalists should grant those sources confidentiality. Sometimes you can use what they tell you to persuade other sources to go on the record.

This post is part of two series on my blog: updated lessons from old stories and detailed ethics discussions. I discuss the issue of confidential sources more broadly in an accompanying post.

This post is more of a case study, a story that shows good reasons to grant confidentiality to sources and a technique for using information from confidential sources to push reluctant sources into going on the record.

The story will be familiar to football fans. It’s the story of Lawrence Phillips‘ relationship with a woman he had been charged with assaulting. We named the victim in the 1995 story in the Omaha World-Herald. I will just use her initials now. Following the ethical principle of minimizing harm, I don’t see a need to pop a new story (that offers no new information) into Google searches for her name more than 18 years later. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with naming her at the time, but that’s another discussion and another tough ethical issue (I’ll discuss it at the end of this post). My story and other media coverage of that assault certainly deepened her trauma of being assaulted. You can find her name pretty quickly if you search for links about Phillips.

This was Phillips’ first criminal case after bursting onto the national scene as a star running back at the University of Nebraska. (He’s now serving a 31-year prison term for other crimes, including an attack on another girlfriend.) After a dominant sophomore season, he was a strong early contender for the Heisman Trophy after running for 206 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan State in the Cornhuskers’ second game of the season.

Tom Osborne photo linked from Husker Spot

But Phillips was arrested that Sunday for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. I covered the police and courts end of the story for the Omaha World-Herald, while colleagues in sports covered the coaches’ statements. Huskers football coach Tom Osborne said he had thrown Phillips off the team (he later reinstated Phillips). The team discipline was separate from the criminal case went, where Phillips was innocent until proven guilty, Osborne said. The coach said he had told Phillips to stay away from the ex-girlfriend, a Husker basketball player, and he was dismissed for disobeying the coach. (more…)

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Some people will talk for the record about private matters if you get a chance to earn their trust.

That was the big lesson for me from one of the most memorable stories of my career, telling the personal stories, on the record, of six women who experienced troubled pregnancies and their decisions of whether to have an abortion or give birth.

If I were doing this story today, I would certainly add crowdsourcing to the techniques I used to find women who would be sources for this story. Finding sources was the biggest challenge in doing the story and was, of course, the key to the story.

It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to do this story by itself. I had developed good relationships with people on both sides of the issue and they played intermediary by hooking me up with potential sources (and by vouching for me to those sources).

Of course, physicians and counselors who connected me with sources wouldn’t and shouldn’t (even before tougher federal health-privacy laws) give me names and phone numbers of patients or clients. They gave my name and phone number to women they thought might talk to me (or perhaps to women whose stories they thought would portray their own views sympathetically). I have no idea how many women got my name and phone number but never called, but eventually, I connected with enough women. (more…)

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