Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Media Witness Gets a Reprieve - for Now

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Media Witness Gets a Reprieve - for Now

Article excerpt

By now, Karin Grunden was supposed to have witnessed her first execution. The police-and-court reporter for the Terre Haute Tribune-Star was one of 10 members of the media expected to watch convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh die in the nearby federal prison yesterday.

In Terre Haute, home of the only facility that handles federal death row inmates, reporters are used to executions being delayed - two have been postponed since last October. Ms. Grunden was also on deck to attend those, representing her paper as one of the local media that must be invited as a media witness. Based on the previous situations, she had some doubts about the McVeigh execution actually occurring on May 16, but she thought it had a better chance than most of being carried out.

Long before the FBI discovery last week that there were thousands of documents Mr. McVeigh's attorneys had never seen, she had been preparing for her trip to the death chamber. Technically, she explains, you don't become a media witness until three hours before the execution.

But she had signed an agreement ahead of time -no drugs, alcohol, video or audio recording devices could accompany her into the prison. And she understood that she would be searched. She could bring in the clothes on her back, but she would be asked to defy the instincts of most in her profession and not carry anything to write with or on. "They provide paper and pen. You could not bring that into the room," she says.

She had also researched other witnesses' experiences, and she thought about her own position on the death penalty. She gave interviews like this one to national and international journalists, all wanting a glimpse of the life of a reporter about to be privy to information that more than 1,600 media representatives had been credentialed to come to town and gather. …

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