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Journalistic integrity at the Herald-Times

By Scott Tibbs, July 27, 2011

I sent the following e-mail to the Herald-Times reporters who wrote the July 18 article about the cocaine problem in Bloomington. Whoever is responsible for Lauren Spierer's disappearance should be held fully accountable, but groundless speculation and gossip does not help anyone.


With all due respect, inserting the speculation about cocaine's role in the Lauren Spierer case tarnishes what is otherwise a good piece of investigative journalism about the cocaine problem here in Bloomington. You admit in your article that there is only speculation about cocaine in the Spierer case at this point, so why even include the fact that rumors are circulating?

If the H-T has some hard evidence of cocaine use (such a blood test results) then let's see that evidence. Until then, reporting unfounded speculation and rumors belongs in the pages of the National Enquirer or Weekly World News, not in the primary news source for a university community that houses one of the nation's best schools of journalism.

There are way too many rumors floating around out there, with a number of wild accusations in the comments on HeraldTimesOnline. We're not just talking about Ms. Spierer here, but also about the reputations and futures of her friends. The H-T has a responsibility to the people involved in this case, to the readers and (most importantly) to the truth to be very careful about what is printed in the newspaper or posted to HeraldTimesOnline until more facts are available.

It is very easy for a lynch mob to form in cases like these. We have seen it in the Casey Anthony case (an innocent woman in Nevada was attacked by a vigilante because she looked like Anthony) and we saw it in the utterly shameful Duke "University" lacrosse case, where the so-called "university" immediately punished players who had committed no crime and had no sexual contact whatsoever with fraudulent "rape" victim Crystal Gail Mangum.

Let's not have the H-T smearing the reputations of these young people without evidence.

Scott Tibbs