Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Who Is a Journalist?

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Who Is a Journalist?

Article excerpt

Vanessa Leggett, for one. Despite the potshots from some corners of the press, her jailing is a threat to all reporters.

Unless something very unlikely occurred over the weekend, Vanessa Leggett is spending her 52nd day in a Houston jail today. According to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, that's longer than any journalist in U.S. history has ever been held for refusing to disclose a confidential source.

Leggett is in lockup with accused murderers, thieves, and drug traffickers because of her research into the 1997 murder of Doris Angleton, whose estranged husband, a wealthy Houston bookie, was accused and acquitted on state charges of hiring his brother for the killing. Leggett taped extensive prison interviews with the brother before he committed suicide. She gave Texas authorities copies of those tapes, but federal prosecutors -- clearly fishing for confidential sources Leggett may have had -- demanded she hand over everything she has ever gathered about the murder.

The Angleton murder case has all the elements necessary to make the kind of true-crime paperback that fills the shelves of Waldenbooks in malls across America. But, in a final indignity, the federal authorities who threw her into the joint even deny Leggett is a journalist. They note darkly that Leggett has published only a few academic articles, and has no book contract.

The Houston Press recently hopped on the prosecutorial bandwagon, claiming Leggett is unworthy of support because she has worked as a private investigator. The alternative weekly also finds it significant that a couple of her story proposals have been rejected by the Houston Chronicle and Texas Monthly -- something, apparently, that its own writers have never experienced. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.