Responding to the Press

Update: a different reporter is going to cover the trial.Be careful what you say to avoid giving the press something to talk about. Keep Jeff’s mother in your thoughts. We need to stick together through this ordeal.

Via Johanna C Strange:  The most important thing to remember as we head into his trail: Jeff Norton changed lives for the better. We are all better people because we knew him and loved him and no one and nothing can take that from us.

This is not an easy post to write.

The media coverage of the trial itself began last night with an article published in the Tampa Bay Times written by Curtis Krueger, a staff writer. He is the Pinellas courts reporter for the paper. He took the sensationalistic spin on the story I was afraid the media would.

In my naivety, I was hoping a theatre reporter would cover the case and be considerate of the victims including the family and the witnesses who were dragged into this. Shame on you Mr Krueger for posting this before the trial starts. Jeff has family and loved ones who are hurting.

Upon checking on ways to respond to bad press:

The best way to respond to [sensationalistic press] is to rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with. Be honest and forthright and put out the correct information.

The correct information will be posted in the updates. If I were a Google hit-seeking blog making money from ads I would do what he did which was essentially tease the public to follow his updates. But I’m not. I am not going to confirm or deny Mr Krueger’s article until it comes out in court. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to happen?

I must say one thing. Steve Blanton was quoted in the article and never talked to Mr Krueger, nor would he. That “pre-trial interview with lawyers”  was a deposition taken over the phone. I want to know what Mr Krueger is doing quoting potential witnesses. Isn’t that illegal or at least unethical? An e-mail to Mr Krueger regrading this matter was unanswered as of this time.

I will close with these thoughts

  • Jeff was loved.
  • Jeff Norton had a wonderful soul.
  • Jeff touches the lives of those he knew to this day.
  • He made mistakes along the path of life. It’s human nature.
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8 Comments

  1. There was nothing the slightest bit sensationalistic about the reporting in the story. It was quite balanced, with as much good stuff about Jeff as bad. The negatives statements all from sworn testimony and those same people are going to testify at the trial. It’s going to get worse when the defense presents its case. Krueger did a solid job. Just because we don’t like half of what he reported doesn’t make it sensationalism.

    • Why was the put out before jury selection? Prostitutes, crack and swords seem like sensationalism to me. Why not say “trauma?” The purpose of a trial is to have a public forum for the truth. Why not put the story out after the trial is underway? Could this story not wait one day? Then it’s news. Luckily only three members of the jury pool were aware of pre-trial publicity.

      We disagree on this and it’s okay. I also believe it was an invasion of privacy to put that story out without talking to all of the people quoted. When I see my husband quoted in an article he knew nothing about. Why bother having trials if you put out what people will testify to before they get a chance to do so?

      I believe you are a journalist and a friend of Jeff’s as well. The founding fathers never envisioned information spreading as quickly as it does now back in 1789 when they wrote the Bill of Rights. Publishing such damaging material so close to the trial where is will come out violates the spirit of the First Admendment.

      • The comments were from defense witnesses, and it was their sworn testimony. The jury will hear that testimony, and that of other witnesses, so there is no way their quoted comments can prejudice a jury.
        There will be more stories now that the trial is underway. This story was to inform people that the trial was coming up.
        It can no be an invasion of privacy to quote these people because all their depositions are public record; anyone can read it. The depositions were never private so there was no privacy to invade.
        Please tell me — how can this story POSSIBLY be in anyway damaging to trial? Even if the story weren’t so balanced, and didn’t include so much praise for Jeff, how could including sworn testimony that’s going to be in the trial anyway — and that was already public record — damage the trial? Even Casey Anthony’s wasn’t hurt by years of completely negative publicity.
        As far as the founding fathers not envisioning this: What is your basis for saying that? I know of no evidence that would support that assertion, They had newspapers, and they advocated overwhelmingly and passionately freedom of the press and open government.
        It was very solid, responsible reporting. The fact that we don’t like what the defense witnesses say doesn’t relieve the Times from its duty to present a balanced story,

        • The basis for my statement about the founding fathers is based on my understanding of the history behind the Bill of Rights. If the article in question was written during that time, putting it out before trial would have been less of a problem due to the lag time in communication. Of course they advocated open government and freedom of the press. They just couldn’t envision information traveling at the speed at which it does today.

          I disagree in principle with pre-trial release of evidence in ANY case. And I think that the leading paragraph is inappropriate. Let the evidence come out in its proper venue; the courtroom. I believe I am fully aware of what is coming out. Let it come out framed by the rules of evidence. The problem with you journalistic types is that you have no patience. After the evidence is presented in court you should be able to type away.

          I see your point about Jeff’s talent; my problem is not WHAT was said, it was HOW it was said along with the TIMING.

          • A story informing people about an upcoming trial must, by definition, appear before the trial, And the Times did not “release” any information from the witnesses. It was public record for many months and anyone who wanted to could see it. I know people who did. The negative comments had already been made public. and the reporter went out of his way to find people to give positive comments. (I know people who he called, but for one reason or another declined to comment. So he made a concerted effort.) Again, the fact we don’t like what the witnesses said does not relieve the Times from its responsibility to write a balanced story. And it cannot possibly prejudice the jury because the same witnesses will testify at the trial. That’s precisely why they were deposed.
            By the way, the founding fathers also did not envision women and black people voting, so that argument is specious.

            • I am not going to argue constitutional law with you but are missing the spirit of the First Amendment. I admire your defense of your co-worker but I still hold that there was no reason to release the slimy details before the forum of a court reveals them. The point is moot now anyway.

              • He is not a co-worker. I have never met nor spoken to him and he does not not work for the same company as I do. I do not believe I have ever read anything else he has ever written. And the “slimy” details were released months ago. (Actually they were never held, so they weren’t “released.” The Times did not release them. They were public record and easily available to anyone. There is no possible way the testimony could prejudice a jury because those same witnesses will be testifying in front of the jury. The story was very balanced and responsible. Just because we don’t like it doesn’t mean it was sensationalized.


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