Thesmokinggun.Com Thrives On Reporting Court Filings

Print reported affidavits in a Texas polygamy case and pushed The Los Angeles Times to retract a major article about the murder of Tupac Shakur by pointing out that it was based on fake documents, says the New York Times. The site says it wll publish a major investigative article about a “well-known platinum-selling artist,” replete with mug shots and police reports. The Smoking Gun is part of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., a Time Warner company. Its average four million unique visitors a month can see embarrassing civil filings and police reports that read as if a crime fiction writer wrote them.

The editor is William Bastone, a veteran Mafia reporter who used to work at The Village Voice. “Name me a Web site that does original reporting. There aren't many,” he said. Bastone is a low-key man who does not seem like the kind of guy who would be breaking big stories about Mafia figures, but he remains surprised that very little digital shoe leather is being expended, given the opportunities. “Their secret sauce is the ability to source documents that no one else can get,” said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks. “It's not a big business, but it's profitable, and one of the things we are diligent about is the care and feeding of brands. Young people respond to this brand on TV and on the Web.” Said Bastone: “Sitting here, we can monitor cases and filings as if we were sitting in the courtroom.”


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