My response to Newsday's review


For me, journalistic ethics are sacrosanct. They've remained so throughout my fifteen-year criminal justice journalism career—a career I'm extremely proud of. I stand behind every word I've published. None of my work has been found to be inaccurate, nor any story I’ve worked on ever retracted. Newsday’s review confirmed the accuracy of the more than 630 stories I wrote for the paper--stories Newsday is standing behind. There have been no complaints about my work from citizens, government agencies, public officials, or other sources about any of my journalism. All quotes and information contained in these stories was verified by multiple sources at the time of publication—with at least one of these sources being a government official—and heavily scrutinized by Newsday’s editors. Many of these stories ran on the front page of the newspaper, and helped impact government policies in Long Island, Albany, and New York City. To demonstrate the veracity of my work, I provided Newsday with voluminous notes substantiating each one of the interviews its editors inquired about during this review. I also provided them with a spreadsheet containing information about every interview in question--where it was conducted, under what circumstances, and other pertinent details. Furthermore, every interviewee named on Newsday’s list—and the quotes attributed to them—was scrutinized by editors at the time I filed my stories. These multiple forms of verification prove the veracity of my work, which readers can examine for themselves on I also offered to meet with Newsday editors in August, but was told this review would be completed before then. I remain available to meet with the editors and answer any and all questions about my work, which has proven wholly accurate. Finally, with regard to interviewees, Newsday was able to track down most of the people I interviewed during my time at the paper, and to corroborate the interviews I conducted with them. As for the interviewees Newsday editors said they have been unable to locate so far, contact information for many of them was in my Newsday iPhone and contained in other records I left behind. Newsday has informed me that contact information for sources I kept in my work iPhone or in Newsday emails—where I routinely saved phone numbers and email addresses for interviewees—are no longer accessible. My phone was “wiped” after I left the paper, I was told, and my emails automatically discarded after a predetermined period of time. This is why I was unable provide contact information for these remaining interviewees to Newsday. Most of these interviewees are people I spoke with briefly for stories I wrote two, three, four, even five years ago. Because of the amount of time that has passed, and the erasure of records, it’s difficult to track them down. It would be extremely difficult for any crime reporter to locate interviewees they quoted during breaking news stories years earlier, especially if the interviewee gave them a name that is not an exact match with what’s listed in public records. As most news consumers know, people are often hesitant to offer their real names when being interviewed by members of the press about sensitive topics. Rightfully so, given the very real risks that can come from speaking out on some of the subjects crime reporters cover. I've done my best to get reticent sources--witnesses, grieving families, addicts, relatives of deceased drug users, criminals, crime victims, and countless others--to speak on the record, sometimes at great personal risk to themselves. It's impossible for any reporter to know whether the name given to him by interviewees on the street--or those reached briefly by phone or email-- is that person's full and legal name, rather than an alias, nickname, or variation of their real name. Every one of the names on Newsday’s list was the name given to me by that interview subject, verbatim. I talked to thousands of people across the U.S. during my years at Newsday, many of whom were addicts in recovery, witnesses to crimes, victims of crimes, or touched by the worlds of violence, drug dealing, terrorism,substance abuse, and addiction. Some were suffering from trauma; many battled social ills and stigmas. These subjects spoke to me at their own risk; all were brave and forthcoming. I will continue to report and write stories that explore underreported issues in our society, and continue to include marginalized voices in my work.