About a month ago, New Times published a story about an 11- year-old preacher named Terry Durham. Newspapers such as the New York Times had already printed feel-good articles about the talented Margate boy. But after spending time with Terry and the people who raised him, we realized there were some serious questions that needed to be addressed. For one, the adults in his life had criminal histories that had never been reported. And two, thousands of dollars in "blessings" -- as grandma Sharon Monroe puts it -- were changing hands at sermons. For the whole story, click here.
Flash forward. Last week we got a call from Melia Patria, producer of ABC's Nightline. She was perky and well-spoken, the way TV people tend to be. And her name even rhymed! We imagined she looks like Brooke Shields and smells like cherry bubble gum. Patria said she liked the feature (Little old us!) and explained Nightline would be "airing a similar story." Then she asked if we could fax over court documents on Monroe's organized fraud conviction.
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Snarky reporters joke about how TV news folk are allergic to research. But not writers here at New Times. No, we would never diss Malia Patria (Banana-fanna-fo-fe-ia.) Except that then something happened. We looked up the ABC clip yesterday and found this statement: "ABC News discovered that both the adults managing Terry's money have criminal records."....Hmmmm... Funny how journalists discover information. Some knock on doors, pull public records, and call investigators. Others do a Google search, and discover someone else's article -- then fail to give them credit. Watch the clip here.
We're sounding a little bitter here. If you're wondering, we gladly would have faxed the court docs, but had only our notes.
As it turns out, the segment was well done. ABC got some awesome footage of the "healings" and "layin' hands" that Terry performs. Writers took an appropriate tone for a complex story, and the anchor even asked a couple tough questions.
So no hard feelings towards TV land. Really, we can't afford to burn our bridges. The way print news is looking, we might need a job someday. Which begs the question: Who's gonna do the reporting then?