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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What's The Story Of These Two Stories? Part I

by capper

In today's MSJ, there are two articles, both written by Steve Schultze, and both dealing with the Milwaukee County House of Correction (HOC) and the Community Correctional Center (CCC) where they house the work release inmates. Both are in the main news section. One article is titled " Lights out for inmates is 3:30". This one was located on the front page and continued on the inside, on page 18. The second article is also on page 18. This article is titled "Clarke rips release plan after arrest".

Both articles caught my eye, due to the fact that I used to work there. I have also been following the story of the four corrections officers who were targeted by Scott Walker for termination. As I read both articles, I found that there were two areas of interest. One was the implications of the story, which I will cover in my next post. The other area was some of the inconsistencies in the two stories.

The main story was about how inmates at HOC and CCC are allowed to stay up until 3:30 a.m. on weekends and holidays, which apparently is unique to the state. All other correctional facilities have lights out at 10 p.m. The part I want to point out is when Mr. Schultze speaks to he superintendent of the HOC and CCC, Ron Malone:

Ron Malone, superintendent of the House of Correction and the work-release center at 1004 N. 10th St., declined to comment, saying he wasn't familiar with inmate hours.

While in the second article, which is about another escaped inmate from CCC, we see this:

Ron Malone, superintendent of the work-release center, couldn't be reached.

Did he speak to Malone, or didn't he? Or did he speak to Malone on one occasion and tried to make contact again? If this is the case, why wasn't that point clarified?

Also in the body of the second article, we have another seeming contradiction. First, Mr. Schultze writes:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. criticized the county’s work-release program after deputies arrested a man Tuesday night who had left the downtown Community Correctional Center without authorization. Clarke said 41-year-old Kenneth D. Glenn should have been excluded from the work-release program based on his history of six felony convictions.

Note the verbs criticized and said. As Jay would teach us, those are action verbs, which would indicated that Clarke was present during these actions, or at least in direct contact with the reporter. But the last sentence of the same article reads:

Clarke was not available for comment Wednesday, said spokeswoman Kim Brooks.

Now, I realize Clarke probably did the original criticism through a press release. But I can't but think that it would make the article seem less self-contradictory if this was mentioned. But since it wasn't, and being right next to the first article, it would make it seem like sloppy journalism, or sloppy editing.

By no means should this critique be construed as maligning Mr. Schultze's personal or journalistic integrity, but I must point out that the inconsistencies between the two stories and in the same story, makes it more suspect to skepticism. I recognize that there may be some logical rationale on why these articles appear this way, but without knowing that rationale, one can only wonder, and be wary.

Another odd part to this whole thing is that when I went to write this post, I had to dig around in the archives to find the second story, even though it was just published today.

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