Fewer Reporters Check Wrongful Convictions


Death penalty trying to exonerate wrongly accused prisoners say their efforts have been hobbled by the dwindling size of newsrooms, and particularly the disappearance of investigative reporting at many regional papers, the New York Times reports. In the past, lawyers provided the broad outlines of cases to reporters, who then pursued witnesses and unearthed evidence. Now, the lawyers say they have to do more of the work themselves and it often doesn't get done. They say many fewer cases are being pursued by journalists, after a spate of exonerations several years ago based on the work of reporters.

“It's extremely troubling, some of the leading investigative journalists in this country have been given golden parachutes or laid off,” said Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project. “When procedural mechanisms begin to fail, the press is the last resort for the public to find out the truth.” Some news organizations are reluctant to join the effort for fear of blurring the line between advocate and objective collector of the news. “My feeling always was we should do it on our own,” said Maurice Possley, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on death penalty and wrongful conviction stories while a reporter for The Chicago Tribune.

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