NY Post's Potty Humor Given Greater Import than Accuarcy: Is the Public Trust Flushed?

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Pictured above is the Downstate Correctional Center in Fishkill, New York. The New York Post mistakenly wrote that the prison that housed the inmate, Darryl Littlejohn, was in Westchester, New York, 62 miles away from the actual location. Was The Post more eager to report the sensational story of Littlejohns fears of food contamination...than getting the basic facts right?

Apparently, The New York Post was more concerned about catchy consonance captions than accurately reporting the facts in a recent article. All in caps, the potty humor headline blasted: “” FIEND’S FECAL FEAST FEARS: BOUNCER WHO KIDNAPPED, RAPED & KILLED NY STUDENT ‘AFRAID’ OF TAINTED PRISON FOOD.”

The article published February 18 by The Post features convicted double murderer Darryl Littlejohn’s fears of fecal poisoning while living “at the Westchester prison where he’s housed.”  Curiously, the story later refers to Littlejohn as being in the “Downstate Correctional Center.”

However, the New York State Department of Corrections’s website states that Littlejohn is currently serving his sentence at the Downstate Correctional Center… in Fishkill, New York. Fishkill is located in Dutchess County, a whopping 62 miles away from Westchester. The only two prisons in Westchester County are Sing Sing and Bedford Hills, a women’s prison.

Despite the fact that a commenter on their site under the article pointed out the mistake less than an hour after the article was posted, The Post has yet to address the mistake.

While on the surface it may seem like a small error, the reality is that The Post has failed to properly report one of the five w’s–WHERE. If a newspaper can’t get even the basic facts of a simple story straight, how well will they do with a story that’s complicated?

The Post covered this story along with rival NY Daily News.  In another questionable twist to what should have been a simple article, both publications used what seems to be the same quote by Littlejohn’s lawyer, Joyce David, although it appeared differently in each publication.

NY Daily News: “‘He’s been threatened and he’s really afraid,’ defense lawyer Joyce David said after a hearing in Brooklyn Supreme Court. ‘People actually told him ‘watch out,’ we’re going to poison your food,’ David said. ‘He’s a target because he’s been made into this monster by the media.'”

NY Post: “‘He’s been threatened in jail that his food’s going to be poisoned,’ said David. ‘He’s lost a lot of weight. He’s afraid.'”

Did either or both publications butcher the quote, or did that source repeat the same statement while “staying on message”? StinkyJournalism has written both reporters to ask.

Anyway, when it comes to reporting the news, shouldn’t accuarcy triumph over jokes in editorial priorities every time?

UPDATE: The answer to the above question about the quotes is: the source repeated the same statement “staying on message.”  iMediaEthics received an email from NY Daily News reporter, Scott Shifrel. Shifrel said that his quotes came from outside the courtroom after the proceedings (this was properly cited in his article). We still have not heard from The Post, but Shifrel believes their quote came from inside the Coutroom.

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NY Post’s Potty Humor Given Greater Import than Accuracy

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