Thursday, April 19, 2007

Good journalism: An alien concept for Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times? Misleading on Virginia Tech shooting.

Wanted: Someone to edit and fact check Michael Sneed’s copy. Intense work: must be able to correct frequent, substantive errors and remind Sneed that previously published items should be cited. Tenacity, attention to detail and integrity required.

On Tuesday of this Week, the print version of Michael Sneed’s Chicago Sun-Times column read:

Sneed hears authorities were investigating whether the gunman who killed 32 people in a rampage on the Virginia Tech campus was a Chinese national who arrived in the United States last year on a student visa.

The 25 year old man being investigated for the deadliest college carnage in U. S. history reportedly arrived in San Francisco on a United Airlines flight on Aug. 7, 2006 on a visa issued in Shanghai, the source said… [The original version of Sneed’s April 17, 2007 column has been replaced on the Chicago Sun-Times web site with a corrected version, but see here].

On Wednesday, after most of the world knew that the gunman at Virginia Tech was not the person on whom Sneed had shined her light, Sneed wrote in her Chicago Sun-Times column:

The question of who the suspected gunman was in the Virginia Tech shooting rampage was answered Tuesday: Cho Seung-Hui, a 23 year old South Korean who was a senior at the school.
Sneed’s online report Monday afternoon stated the initial investigation led law enforcement authorities to a preliminary suspect, who was a man from China.

Details and a description of the preliminary suspect accompanied reports available to law enforcement agencies.

However, Sneed did not comment in her Wednesday print column about her Tuesday print column, which had cited to no source for her misleading, if not erroneous, statements. Apparently, Sneed’s attitude is “Why admit that you misled,” and apparently the Chicago Sun-Times managers and editors agree. Cover-up, rather than fess up, appears to be the order of the day at the Sun-Times.

Others took a different attitude about Sneed and some other media outlets:

There were three inaccurate media reports of the Virginia Tech massacre, one by several television networks, one by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed, and one by NBC News. [See here].

Moreover, Sneed’s Tuesday Chicago Sun-Times column had additional problems. The Column stated:

Sneed is told Veep Dick Cheney’s plane, Air Force Two, hit a bird as it was landing in Chicago last Week. But, apparently no one aboard noticed…except for our source. [Sneed also reported about Cheney and his daughter doing some shopping at American Girl Place.] See here.

But, most would not call the above Cheney item newsworthy, at least not by the time Sneed “reported,” it on Tuesday, April 17. The above referenced Cheney plane-bird crash had already been well reported by AP [not to mention many other publications], and the AP report was carried in Sneed’s own paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, on April 13, four days before it appeared in Sneed’s column. See here.

Further, Sneed’s comment that no one aboard noticed the Cheney plane-bird crash, except for “our source,” is also a bit wacky as the previously published articles report that the plane was inspected for potential problems caused by the bird-plane collision, after it landed and this April 13th report discusses a passenger hearing a “tremendous bang,” from the bird-engine collision.

Do you think Sneed reads her own paper? Perhaps this could be the first assignment of Sneed’s new editor: remove those items from Sneed’s “News," that have previously appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times.

And, there was yet another problem with Sneed’s Tuesday column: Sneed referred to Valerie Jarrett as a member of the prestigious “Federal Reserve Board.” In fact, Jarrett is a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, not to be confused with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. [See here]. Yes, it is a nice honor to hold the former position, but it is not really on the same level with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

There are one hundred eight, or so, directors of the twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, and Jarrett is one such director. She can appropriately be described as on the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago [See here].

There are seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, which, along with Presidents of certain of the regional Fed Banks, i.e. the Fed's Open Market Committee, controls monetary policy for the United States. Some may refer to the Board of Governors as the Federal Reserve Board, or more accurately, as the Board of Governors for the Fed. Neither description works for Jarrett.

Correcting all of the above-described mistakes made in one day by Michael Sneed would be pretty intense labor. Perhaps that would be a good punishment for Conrad Black. Make him Sneed’s editor and fact checker. That ought to keep Black out of trouble for quite some time, and as further punishment he would be viewed by his wife, by virtue of his being a staffer or reporter on the Sun-Times, as either vermin or a slut--- I am guessing the former.

Finally, none of this is really new for the Chicago Sun-Times' Michael Sneed. Indeed, taking from others without citation is almost a trademark of Michael Sneed's journalism career, at least in recent times. See here here and here.

Taking a page from Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica [R-Riverside]and Democratic Presidential Candidate and U. S. Senator Barack Obama [D-IL], have you had enough of Michael Sneed's journalism? Well, have you?
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at