Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bennett Barbour: Dahlia Lithwick's exposee of Virginia's indifference to DNA exonerations: The story behind the story. Neiman Storyboard.

STORY: "Dahlia Lithwick on long-form sob-stories and the Supreme Court," published by the Nieman Storyboard on March 23, 2012.

GIST: America's courts are your beat. Do you have an overarching goal when writing stories about them?

(DL): "Yes, I do. Sometimes I think that court reporting is so mystified, it becomes a form of science reporting, where it’s this obscure thing in which we have to spend a lot of time explaining the physics and how things work. My own sense of it is that this can’t be the way we talk about the courts, because the courts impact every single aspect of our lives. Things like eyewitness identifications that go wrong affect every single one of us. We pay millions of dollars into a criminal justice system that I think is fundamentally broken. A lot of the overarching goal from the beginning has been to try to be an ambassador or a translator between the very lofty, and I think jargon-y, language of the court system and the average American, who is hugely interested but sometimes feels like the meaning has been obfuscated. So I try really, really hard, particularly in some of these criminal justice cases. Think of Thompson v. Connick, a big Supreme Court case also involving someone who was exonerated. People care so desperately about this, but you need to strip away the patina that this is too hard to understand, and really try to formulate it in ways that are interesting and also urgent, so that people can come to realize, “Oh my God, this is what we are doing in this country, and this is why it matters.”"

The entire story can be found at:

I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.