The Oregonian last night had to set the record straight on one small detail in the paper's initial story on the sudden death of its Pulitzer-winning editorial page editor, Bob Caldwell. Caldwell did not die in his car, as the paper initially reported.
The Oregonian previously erroneously reported that Caldwell had been found in his parked car on Saturday, based on information from a family friend.
Instead, he was in the Tigard apartment of a 23-year-old college student.
The woman called 9-1-1 at 4:43 p.m. to report that Caldwell, 63, was coughing and then unresponsive after a sex act. Washington County sheriff's officers and medical personnel responded and transported him to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, where he later was pronounced dead.
The woman told deputies she met Caldwell about a year ago at Portland Community College. Caldwell, she said, knew she didn't have much money, so he provided her cash for books and other things for school in exchange for sex acts at her apartment.
Caldwell had not given her money Saturday, she told deputies. They decided against pursuing prostitution charges.
This all comes after a day of heartfelt tributes about Caldwell as a newsman, and even on his relationship with his surviving wife. It also reminded us of his DUII arrest in 2010—a story his paper didn't report on.
But the morning after the paper put out the revised story, it's already starting to get some national traction. Journalism blogger Jim Romenesko has a link up on his website and also posted the thing on Facebook, sparking a discussion of whether it was fair game to report this kind of "sordid" detail about a man's death.
At one point, the O threatened to cut off comments on its own story because of "snide remarks"—a courtesy the paper never applies to other public figures, like, say, Mayor Sam Adams.
To address a couple of questions. We reported the information we had at the time Sunday, that our friend and colleague died in his car. Further information that became available today revealed other circumstances, and we determined that it was prudent to publish. Hardly a coverup, as some here allege. And the decision was not taken lightly for all the sensitivities and concerns raised here.
We will close comments if the snide remarks and tasteless comments continue. We left comments open, as our policy is one of open discussion online.