Exercising Journalistic Integrity (4/23/09)
By now, most people know U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino went to the FBI last month to report an alleged extortion attempt against him by a woman named Karen Sypher. You probably also know Fox 41 News conducted a lengthy on-camera interview with Ms. Sypher in which she detailed her accusations against Mr. Pitino.
So, some are wondering why we haven't aired that interview. Well, so far, we've been unable to confirm any of Ms. Sypher's claims. Reporting unsubstantiated accusations against Mr. Pitino - or anyone else -- would be unethical and irresponsible.
Some people have pointed out that we report allegations in criminal and civil cases all the time. But those allegations are contained in lawsuits or criminal charges that are part of the public record.
In the absence of any lawsuit or criminal complaint, Ms. Sypher's claims are no more than personal accusations. And as such, they're off-limits to any responsible news organization.
We'll broadcast that interview if the claims made in it become a matter of public record, or if we can determine to our satisfaction that those claims are true.
Until then, it stays in the can.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my...Point of View.