Reporting on Michael Brown's autopsy
Last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch misquoted forensic expert, Dr. Judy Melinek's interpretation of Michael Brown’s autopsy. The Post-Dispatch stood by their original report until yesterday when it added an editor's note to the story saying Dr. Melinek wanted to clarify her statements. Missouri School of Journalism professors Earnest Perry, Mike McKean and Amy Simons discuss the issue.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's initial story was published online last Wednesday and in last Thursday’s print editions. The report led to a flood of stories in other papers across the country that seemed to affirm Officer Darren Wilson’s account of that day, including a story from the Washington Post.
This Tuesday, the Post-Dispatch added an editor’s note to its story indicating that Dr. Melinek contacted the paper seeking to clarify her statements.
Professor Mike McKean said Melinek's reaction didn't come as a surprise.
"It's not surprising for a source when they become part of a firestorm to suddenly say 'Oh, you took me out of context.'"
McKean pointed out that Melinek did not deny that she said any of the quotes used by the Post-Dispatch during her interview with Lawrence O'Donnell from The Last Word on MSNBC.
But the media isn't entirely free of guilt. Professor Earnest Perry said news organizations need to keep in mind that the leaked autopsyused by the Post-Dispatch is only one of many items considered by the grand jury.
"You're only getting part of the story. And that part of the story is going to feed into a narrative that one side or the other is basically trying to put out there before the public."
Perry said the public won't get the full story until the Grand Jury makes their decision and all of the information is released.