Support for the N&O’s Dan Kane: Keep at it

I have admired Dan Kane’s work in the N&O on the UNC athletic-now-academic scandal for a while. It has shown the N&O’s typical aggressiveness, tenacity and fearlessness. Not surprisingly, others aren’t so kind. Or, rather, Julius Peppers’ agent, Carl Carey Jr., isn’t.

Steve Riley, Dan’s editor at the N&O, explains the background. Basically, it has to do with linking a negative site to Dan’s name when someone does a Google search. Classy. On the other hand, most journalists don’t mind being trashed by a news subject; it often means their reporting has hit home.

Steve: I’m Dan’s editor, and I can tell you that I’ve never seen a more dogged and determined reporter. But I’ve also not seen one any more dedicated to being fair and placing things in their proper context. He will keep reporting this story, regardless of the web site assembled in his honor.

The News & Observer says stop

Steve Riley, senior editor/investigations for the News & Observer, said enough is enough yesterday. Good for him.

At The N&O, we’re accustomed to having folks saying unpleasant things about us. Most of the time, we just smile, let it pass. Occasionally, we have to admit that the caller or letter writer is correct.

We try to draw the line when someone falsely accuses us of illegal behavior.

You can read the whole thing, but the person making the charge against an N&O reporter isn’t just anybody — the Durham DA — and she’s not just talking. She’s made it in a sworn affadavit.

Riley responds with a categorical denial, and I believe him.

When I was an editor, I, too, resisted making a big deal about people saying things about the paper and its reporters that were patently false. The paper is a large, powerful institution and comes with a target on its back. We didn’t need to respond to every criticism and falsehood. I thought that responding would make the false charges even more visible, to say nothing of dignifying the criticism. Besides, when your own editorial page routinely criticizes someone or something, you have to have a thick skin yourself.

Still, in retrospect, I wish I had been quicker and more aggressive in reacting to some of them. Setting the record straight is critical when you make a mistake; it’s also critical when someone files a false charge.