Oregonian Editor Peter Bhatia posted an editor's note early this morning on the paper's decision this week to correct its original reporting on the death of its longtime opinion pages editor, Bob Caldwell. The note explains the uncomfortable calculus but also includes another awful stunner.
The "family friend" who told the paper that Caldwell had died in his car, and not after having sex with a college student he sometimes paid? She was another editor at the paper who was close with Caldwell's wife. That editor, Kathleen Glanville admitted that she knowingly passed along the sanitized death story, and has since been fired, according to a Facebook post cited by media blogger Jim Romenesko.
As Bhatia wrote:
The erroneous report, as we said at the time, did come from a family friend, one of more than 30 years with the Caldwells, but one who was also a staff member. In hindsight, we should have said that in the Tuesday story and identified her by name. Glanville, however, was consumed with helping Caldwell’s widow and with her own family matters, and we could not talk with her until Wednesday.
Glanville, an assistant editor at The Oregonian, has admitted lying to [Caldwell obituary writer John] Killen. She says she regrets it deeply, and she has apologized to the news staff at the paper. You can attribute it to the fog of grief, a sleepless night or the loss of a dear friend. But, while we are used to sources lying to us, it is difficult to swallow when the source is a fellow Oregonian journalist. (You may logically ask what will happen to an employee who lied to us. There will be repercussions, but those will not be discussed publicly.).
Here's Glanville's Facebook post. I didn't think this story could possibly get any more painful for the people Caldwell left behind, and yet...