Should Reporter Who Handled Victim Scalp Have Done Story?


Should Steve Lannen, a reporter for the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, have continued to report on the story of a man’s death after he had delivered to the coroner part of the man’s scalp that investigators had left behind in the woods? Editors of the newspaper disagree. The man had died in an accident, and the coroner had failed to take the entire scalp. A friend had picked it up but was too distraught to take it in; she asked the reporter to do it, and he did.

Assistant metro editor Dori Hjalmarson, who edited the story, concluded that a “different reporter should have taken over the reporting once the first reporter became part of the action.” Metro editor Peter Baniak disagreed, saying that Lannen “played a minimal role in the story, essentially acting as a delivery person. His involvement didn't change the story line significantly, other than to ensure that the remains made it to where they belonged. Also, I don't think his minimal role compromised his objectivity.”


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