Dealing with Conflicts of Interest
1. Discuss the possible impacts that Publisher Richard Meeker"s relationship with and respect for Goldschmidt could have had on the investigation.
2. Despite the Meeker"s openness with his readers about his connections with Goldschmidt and his supporters, what questions emerge about the impact that could have had on the newspaper"s coverage of Goldschmidt over the years? What impact could that have on the public"s perception of the paper"s coverage?
Dealing with Anonymous Sources
1. Without Goldschmidt"s confession, would the story have been publishable?
2. Jaquiss relied on Susan"s co-workers, roommates and boyfriends for information she gave them. What reliability and credibility problems did such sources pose for Jaquiss? Discuss interviewing techniques for dealing with such problems.
3. In interviewing the homeless-looking ex-boyfriend of Susan, Jaquiss tried to trick him into believing if the source circled Goldschmidt"s initials on a piece of paper, the source could say truthfully he didn"t tell Jaquiss anything about the former governor. Did that violate standards prohibiting reporters from deceiving sources? If that source had circled the initials, would you consider that trustworthy confirmation? What value, if any, would the information have?
After that source"s bizarre behavior in making the toss of a piece of wadded-up paper the deciding factor on whether he would cooperate with Jaquiss, would you consider that source reliable at all? Explain.
4. In interviewing a criminal defense lawyer who was another former boyfriend of Susan, Jaquiss concluded that the source"s oblique and indirect positive responses to his questions"when taken together"counted as another confirmation. Go over several of those answers and discuss their validity as confirmation.
1. In interviewing Doreen Margolin, who was Susan"s conservator, Zusman and Jaquiss elicited a telling reaction. What is the evidentiary value of what they observed and what she said? What is the value, if any, of her reactions?
2. What follow-up questions would you have asked of Margolin?
3. In the interview with Margolin, Zusman tried to get information from her by saying her obvious reaction to his question seemed to confirm that he and Jaquiss "must be on to something." What would have been a better question?
4. After the class reads the interview with Susan, discuss what Jaquiss did, asking students to identify the strengths and weaknesses.
Interviewing the Primary Subject of the Investigation
1. Discuss the timing of the lunch Zusman and Meeker had with Goldschmidt during the investigation. Ask a student how he or she would have dealt with Goldschmidt in that situation.
2. What would have been the best time to interview Goldschmidt? Open the discussion up to the rest of the class to discuss pros and cons of that answer and suggest alternatives.
1. Although Jaquiss did not break any laws by recording phone conversations without informing the source, do you think it was ethical? Explain.
2. Discuss what options are ethically available to the paper if, after publication, the editors discover they need to use the recording in court in a suit involving the story.