Public Editor

March 27, 2014

Why not name the restaurant in fugitive story?

The first version of a story The Star broke about a fugitive nabbed by law enforcement in a tony Plaza restaurant didn’t name the eating establishment. Many readers accused The Star of a coverup.

“Why doesn’t The Star have the guts to say the guy who got picked up by the U.S. Marshal on the Plaza was in Fogo de Chao?” asked a caller this morning, echoing a question I heard from several others.

More than one suggested The Star was intentionally not naming the restaurant to avoid making its management or that of the Country Club Plaza unhappy.

I checked with the senior editor over the metro news operation, and he told me the decision before publishing the story early yesterday evening was a fairly simple journalistic call: The acting deputy U.S. Marshal who was the on-the-record source for the story declined to confirm the name of the restaurant, and they couldn’t find another source to cross-check it.

Since then, the newsroom has gotten further confirmation of the restaurant’s identity, and

the story has been updated with its name.

To be honest, I hear allegations that The Star covers up for high-end businesses fairly often. In fact, ever since my teenage years, I recall insinuations that all local media colluded with the Plaza and other high-end developments to suppress news of all sorts of crime.

As I say with all allegations of conspiracies, of course such things do exist. People do really band together to keep secrets.

But among journalists? The news is an intensely competitive business, and I can tell you firsthand that there are few alliances among reporters and editors following the same beats from different newsrooms. Sometimes a fascinating story really is too good to be true.

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