This poll is based on a recent news event that riveted the world of journalism and, apparently, nowhere else. On March 12, the Portland Oregonian noted the passing of its well-known editorial page editor, Robert Caldwell, at the age of 63. The paper said he had died in his car of a heart attack.
The following day, they had to print an excruciating retraction. A police report showed that he had not died in his car, but in something else. A 23-year-old woman said that Caldwell had been with her, in her apartment, which he was accustomed to visiting, and paying for a sex act. The woman identified herself to police as a student, and said Caldwell as a kindly elderly gentleman who helped her pay for books -- but subsequent stories suggested she was, in fact, a prostitute.
The paper had gotten the first, erroneous story from one of its long-time editors, Kathleen Glanville. She was a close friend of Caldwell and Caldwell’s widow, which whom she apparently conspired to feed a bland version of his death to the newspaper. She was the “family source” who was quoted in the first story – and she may also have been the person who moved Glanville’s car from near the woman’s apartment to near his own home. On the day this all was disclosed, she was fired. She wrote a heartfelt farewell letter to The Oregonian on her Facebook page:
“I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to The Oregonian for the many years that I had the privilege to work there. I was fired this afternoon because in the midst of great sorrow for the loss of my dearest friend, I did not share with the paper the embarrassing details of his death, which I knew only because of my close relationship with his wife.
“I understand the need my newspaper felt to punish my violation of journalistic ethics in some way. There are times in people’s lives when you have to make a decision about what is most important. I am sorry that my decision — which came from love — cost me my job. I will always cherish the many people who I have worked beside for so many years.
“I loved working at The Oregonian — it was my life.”
So, here we go: