Magazine article Nieman Reports

Taylor Award for Fairness

Magazine article Nieman Reports

Taylor Award for Fairness

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

To say that the subject of reporter J. Andrew Curliss's "Twisted Truth" series was difficult is putting it mildly. Tracey Cline, the district attorney of Durham, North Carolina, repeatedly battled Curliss and his paper, The News & Observer in Raleigh, over the investigation.

The three-part series is the 2011 winner of the Taylor" Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers. Speaking about it, judge Tyler Bridges, NF '12, said "what especially stood out for me was how the newspaper handled Cline's attempts to discredit its work and that of its reporter ... The paper's editors demonstrated considerable fairness when Cline cast the paper in the difficult role of having to report on her attacks against it." She has since been removed from office.

Nieman Reports's Jonathan Seitz spoke with Curliss after the award ceremony. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow; a longer version is available online at http://nieman.harvard.edu/Curliss/.

Jonathan Seitz: What led you to the "Twisted Truth" investigation?

J. Andrew Curliss: It was me sitting in the courtroom, paying attention. There was a hearing where the D.A. ended up on the stand and was asked a series of questions and clearly did not handle the questions well. My paper was the only one who covered that hearing, but on the same floor, basically across the hall, the news media for the entire region were covering a murder trial. If everybody else was sitting in the same courtroom, would they have seen what I did and decide to go look? …

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