Tampa Bay Times Defends Reporting after Source Kills Herself

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(Credit: TampaBay.com, screenshot)

The Tampa Bay Times defended and explained its reporting after a story became national news because its source, Gretchen Molannen, committed suicide.

The Times reported on Molannen’s suicide Dec. 5 noting that she had told the Times, for its Nov. 30 story, that she “attempted suicide at least three times during the past year” because of her medical condition, “persistent genital arousal disorder.”

According to the Times, its staff stayed in touch with Molannen until Nov. 28 when she thanked the newspaper for having “cared so much to want to help” and for its “patience with me” and commented that she is “excited to see my own story online.”  The Times noted that:

“After the story had been written and edited but before it was published, it was read to Molannen word for word. Several small details were removed at her request.”

Times‘ managing editor Mike Wilson added to Jim Romenesko that the Times doesn’t “routinely read stories to sources” pre-publication but made an exception “because of the extremely personal nature of the story.”

Wilson told iMediaEthics by phone that the newspaper read the story to Molannen “around the 26th or 27th.” Molannen emailed the newspaper Nov. 28 thanking the paper and “the last time anyone was in touch with her was the next night,” Nov. 29, Wilson said.  She was found dead Dec. 1. iMediaEthics has also asked the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office for confirmation that Molannen was found dead Dec. 1 and when her estimated time/day of death was. We will update with any response.

Hat Tip: Mediaite 

UPDATE: 12/10/2012 5:30 PM EST: Added info from Wilson.

CORRECTION - December 10, 2012 05:35 PM

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Molannen committed suicide Dec. 5; she was found dead Dec. 1. Thanks to Tampa Bay Times’s Managing Editor Mike Wilson and Enterprise Editor Bill Duryea for letting us know. We’ve also added information.

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Tampa Bay Times Defends Reporting after Source Kills Herself

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