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Monday, April 18, 2005

E&P Says Something is Up With The Los Angeles Times, Reporter Eric Slater

Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp reports that an announcement regarding reporter Eric Slater of The Los Angeles Times is coming sometime later this week. Times spokesmen and editors refuse to say anything more other than something is about to be made public.

That approach guarantees a maximum of uninformed speculation in the Times newsroom, as well as in every other major MSM newsroom and across the Blogosphere. Strupp explains why Slater is at the center of this episode:

"A March 29 story Slater wrote about the death of a college student in Chico, Calif., drew complaints and accusations of poor reporting, questionable sources, and factual errors.Slater's story had followed up on the February death of Matthew Carrington, a student at California State University, Chico, who had died after a hazing ritual that included drinking up to five gallons of water.
"In a March 31 correction, the Times apologized for a string of errors in the story, including mistakenly reporting that a fraternity pledge at a nearby community college had died of alcohol poisoning when he was only hospitalized, and that the city of Chico has a population of 35,000 when it is really 71,317."

But that correction was not the end of problems with Slater's reporting, as Strupp further explains:

"The problems did not end there. Observers ranging from Zingg to editors at the local Chico Enterprise-Record to LAObseved.com, a media watchdog site, have spent the past few weeks hammering at the Times and Slater.
"Those and others have questioned whether students quoted anonymously actually existed and raised questions about whether he was ever at the Chico campus, which has more than 15,000 students.
"'If he was here, he didn't do much reporting,' Chico State journalism professor Glen Beske told the San Francisco Chronicle for Saturday's paper."

Why is the list of MSM journos getting caught up in such controversies growing at such a steady pace?

UPDATE: The Times confirmed it yesterday, announcing that Slater has been fired as a result of specific errors of fact and sources whose existence could not be confirmed in his reporting. This parade of Jason Blairs at major MSM dailies is beginning to look like the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. Here's E&P's report.

But here's something to think about: Think Rathergate, exploding pickup trucks and Audi 5000 unintended acceleration. How many "news" segments reported by Jason Blair types have appeared on broadcast news over the years?