Editor&Publisher takes a look at the aftermath of New Jersey newspaper the Sunday Star-Ledger‘s two-year battle to get hold of emails between the state’s former governor and an ex-girlfriend – emails which were denied to a political opponent by New Jersey’s supreme court last year.
E&P hears from Josh Margolin, the reporter who broke the story this weekend, about the material uncovered and the immediate impact following publication.
Teased atop the Saturday edition and occupying almost all of Sunday’s page one and six entire inside pages, the package consisted of an in-depth write-up accompanied by all 123 e-mails received by the newspaper, with only very minor edits for obscenity and relevance. The investment in paper and ink preserves not only every intimate detail and typo, but also, as the story notes, “clear discussion of state business.”
From the Star-Ledger’s statehouse bureau, Josh Margolin supplied background and a long look at the issues that brought the e-mails into play. The communications stretched over two months in early 2007, when Corzine was in contract negotiations with several state workers’ unions. Lawyer and former girlfriend Carla Katz was the president of one of them, the Communications Workers of America’s largest local.
In a video interview with NJ.com’s Ledger Live, Margolin – in a move which in part reflects that of WikiLeaks last week – said the paper decided to publish the emails in their entirety because they wanted readers to make their own judgement, not the reporter.
The reason why we’re running so much of the content in our newspaper is because we want people to understand what it is. This is one of those cases we’re trying to remove as much of the reporter filter as much as possible.
At the weekend, the paper won three awards in the sports online, public/current/community affairs and writer/producer categories. Brian Donohue, host of LedgerLive, the evolution of which Siditsky explained to Journalism.co.uk, took the writer/producer accolade.
Siditsky told us last month:
Video here is more entrenched in this newspaper than it’s ever been. It hasn’t necessarily turned an advertising corner and I think we’ve realised that this isn’t going to be the magic bullet. But does that mean it doesn’t have value? I think it has value as a medium unto itself and is a way for us to tell stories that can be as good or possibly even better than ways that organisations were traditionally doing before.
“This is local video news for the web. It’ll be conversational, interactive and draw constantly on the community of users at NJ.com [the paper’s website] and bloggers, vloggers and podcasters across New Jersey.”
Presented by news reporter Brian Donohue, the newscast will be broadcast live and later made available to embed and divided into sections by news item.
The final test version of Ledger Live is below (and yes, the phone will be unplugged next time):