Other stories ignored, editorial says

Originally Published: August 24, 2004
Associated Press

DENVER -- With Kobe Bryant's sexual assault trial just days away, a Colorado newspaper is sticking with its policy against printing any stories about the high-profile case.

The Aspen Daily News will print a story on the outcome, but other stories about the case will not appear in the newspaper until then, editor Rick Carroll said Tuesday. Jury selection in Eagle begins Friday.

The 12,500-circulation newspaper initially joined the crush of media covering the case after the NBA star was charged with felony sexual assault last July. It stopped in October, with editors saying the paper was opting out of the "media mob."

In an editorial, the newspaper said reporters were ignoring other good stories while covering the case, and that many readers were tired of the pervasive coverage.

Owner Dave Danforth did not approve the decision, and still wishes his editors would change their minds. But he said he will not force coverage.

"We have a history of wide-open discussion at the Daily News and people are not penalized for disagreeing with me," he said.

Still, he said some coverage could be helpful.

"The story has enough interest in terms of legal strategy if nothing else, and [timeliness] now that the trial's nearly upon us," Danforth said.

Carroll said the editors' decision last fall generated unexpectedly high amounts of coverage in other media.

"The last thing we want to do is lift the ban and get the same amount of coverage as when we implemented the ban," he said.

Kelly McBride, a member of the ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute journalism think tank, said the paper is depriving its readers of potentially beneficial coverage of issues surrounding sexual assault and the judicial system's ability to handle a high-profile case.

"You slam the door on any journalistic good that could come of this," she said. "That said, I recognize that there has been an incredible amount of sensationalism, voyeuristic coverage, inappropriate invasions of privacy. I do not by any means think that's defensible."

If convicted, Bryant, 26, faces four years to life in prison or 20 years to life on probation, and a fine up to $750,000. He has said he had consensual sex with the woman accusing him of rape at a Vail-area resort.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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