Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reckless and Malicious

Reckless and Malicious

There are just too many stories of how the news media wrecks the lives of people to allow this to continue. If a Code of Ethics were put in place, journalists would at least have to think before they jump to conclusions and print lies.


Richard Jewell found dead in home
Olympic security guard suspected but cleared in bombing

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 08/29/07

Richard Jewell, the former security guard once suspected of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing — then cleared — died at his home Wednesday morning in Woodbury.

For the past three years, Jewell, 44, worked as a deputy sheriff for the Meriwether County Sheriff's department, said Sheriff Steve Whitlock. He said Jewell had been out on medical leave.
Richard Jewell

Meriwether County coroner Johnny Worley said Jewell's wife, Dana, discovered him unconscious at about 10:30 a.m. Worley said an autopsy would be performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine how Jewell died, but there was "no suspicion of foul play.

"He had been having some pretty serious medical problems," Worley said.

He said Jewell had been diagnosed with diabetes in February and had a couple of toes amputated. "He had been going downhill ever since," Worley said.

Whitlock described Jewell as "a good officer. A go-getter."

"You know how they say people live their work. Richard ate and drank his job. He loved it," Whitlock said.

Jewell was initially lauded as a hero after a bomb went off on July 27, 1996, during an Olympic celebration in Atlanta. He called attention to the suspicious knapsack that held a bomb and helped evacuate the area.

Days later, he became the FBI's chief suspect, as The Atlanta Journal Constitution and other media outlets reported. The FBI cleared Jewell of any wrongdoing. He was never charged with a crime.

Eric Robert Rudolph pleaded guilty to the bombing in 2005 and is serving life in prison for it and other attacks.

After he was cleared, Jewell sued the AJC and other media outlets for libel, arguing that their reports defamed him. Several news organizations settled, including NBC and CNN.

The Journal-Constitution did not settle. The newspaper has contended that at the time it published its reports Jewell was a suspect, so the articles were accurate. The newspaper also has asserted that it was not reckless or malicious in its reports regarding Jewell. Much of Jewell's case was dismissed last year. One claim, based on reports about a 911 call, is pending trial.

However, Jewell's death Wednesday "is not a day to consider lawsuits, rather a day to pay respect," said John Mellott, AJC publisher.

"Richard Jewell was a hero, as we all came to learn," Mellott said. "The story of how Mr. Jewell moved from a suspect in the Centennial Park bombing to recognition as a security guard who averted a greater tragedy is one The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported fully even as it defended itself in a libel suit brought by him."

No comments: