Journalists defended their coverage of the D.C.-area sniper shootings and denied any role in harming the investigation during a Kalb Report forum at the National Press Club Monday night.
Moderator Marvin Kalb’s lead-in question asked journalists if they believed any of their reporting hindered the investigation.
“I’m not sure that we know that.who’s to say that (the police) were doing it right? We were just doing our job,” said Dan Raviv, national correspondent for CBS Radio Network News.
Other reporters agreed with him.
“I’m pretty satisfied with how we handled the story,” said David Roberts, vice president of news for WUSA-TV. He said cases in which the relationship between the police and the media is questioned must be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Kathryn Kross, vice president and Washington bureau chief for CNN, Marc Fisher, columnist for The Washington Post and Jim Farley, vice president of news and programming for WTOP, joined Raviv and Roberts for the forum.
About 100 people, including GW students, attended the event, which was co-sponsored by the School of Media and Public Affairs.
All of the journalists insisted that they carry out their work with professionalism and respect, denying repeatedly that they had ever failed to adhere to police requests not to report certain information.
“We’ve complied (with the police) in every instance,” Farley said.
However, the journalists said they know the police officers’ job is not easy. They said they have often spoken with the police in recent weeks, including Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose.
“I can understand their frustration, but it’s a tough battle on both sides,” Roberts said.
The journalists observed that the public often sides with police.
“There is a real cultural divide . people want it to be settled, so their sentiments are with the police,” Raviv said.
Fisher noted that the nature of the story alone is going to make the media unpopular, as they are the ones giving the “bad news.”
Kalb also brought up the 24-hour news cycle and how it may have affected coverage of the investigation.
Fisher said there is a desire to keep a story alive for the 24-hour news cycle because of the amount of airtime they have to fill. Kross said the idea of keeping a story alive to fill time “scares her.”
“We do cover a big story in a big way, but there is a whole wash of other stories that we cover,” Kross said.
This article appeared in the October 24, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.