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Seligmann Issues A Thank You

Reade Seligmann asked K.C. Johnson to post a letter on his site, in which he thanks everyone who helped to expose the case and also to urge people not to stop with the lacrosse case:

...I now know that it is my responsibility to use this experience to help those who will not have the chance to see the other side of their prison walls.

You have all waged a war against prosecutorial misconduct and exposed Mike Nifong, Crystal Mangum, the Durham Police Department as well as all of the other peripheral characters involved. We must continue to fight for those who do not have a voice and will never have the opportunity to sit in front of a national audience to declare their innocence.

Seligmann has made this suggestion more than once, and he's right.  As James Coleman said early on, if it can happen to rich and powerful white defendants, it can happen a lot easier to poor minority defendants.  We repeat our hope that someone, or some agency or media outlet, will aggressively look at what the District Attorney's office has done for the last ten or fifteen years, focusing in particular on Mike Nifong's case load both as assistant D.A. and then head man.

Normally, we'd hope that the Durham paper would take the lead in something like this, but the Herald-Sun has been too busy destroying its infrastructure and alienating its subscriber base to engage in any significant investigative journalism.

Since the paper was sold a few years ago, the Herald-Sun has made two critical errors (at least).

  1. The mass firing of employees the day the new owners took over.  It was ugly and unnecessary, and it made a lot of people very angry at the paper.
  2. The lacrosse coverage.   With its consistent refusal to be objective about the case, the Herald-Sun alienated a lot more people.

At this point, the best response the paper often gets is apathy.  A few years ago, a lot of people in Durham were somewhat offended by the aggressive marketing of the News & Observer and stuck with the Herald-Sun despite the fact, as we heard more than once, that it's far from a great paper.  That's okay, people said, it's our paper.

Now, many of those same people have switched to the N&O and dropped the Herald-Sun.  We're not saying they've hit the point of no return yet, but anecdotal evidence suggests that they have really weakened their hometown base.  It's not really "ours" anymore, and that's a real loss.  And if that's as widespread as we suspect, then the paper is in deeper trouble than they know.