Reed also criticized the analytical methodology used by Halsne and his team. By comparing data from the state’s Department of Corrections with Voter Registration data, Reed’s complaint claims, KIRO7 got an incomplete and erroneous picture that included numerous false-positive results. For example, while the doc may have listed individuals as convicted felons, some may have had their voting rights restored by “completing all terms of the sentence, or, for felonies committed prior to 2000, by allowing 10 years to pass since conviction or release, whichever is later.” Therefore, some convicted felons listed on the voting rolls were, in fact, legitimate voters.

After determining that Reed’s complaint met the “serious and substantive” threshold, the news council delivered a formal complaint to KIRO7 inviting them to respond to Reed and offering informal mediation that could avoid a public-hearing process. The station’s general manager Eric Lerner, joined by Halsne and two other staffers, finally agreed to meet with Reed and his aides on January 21, and Lerner said that at the meeting, the station stood by its stories. But several weeks later, the two stories in question were removed from KIRO7’s Web site, without explanation; a KIRO7 spokeswoman—the only representative from the station who would discuss the matter with CJR—said only that the station stands by the stories. “We take stories down from the Web site every day,” said Maria Lamarca Anderson.

What’s disappointing isn’t that KIRO7 made mistakes—journalists make mistakes all the time—but that it has refused to either own up to them or explain why it stands by the stories.

 

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Katia Bachko is on staff at The New Yorker.