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Saturday's With Mateen And Jason

What happen when the most famous columnist at a major market paper is caught in a fabrication? What happens if that columnist was also a vocal critic of disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair?

So far nothing.

Detroit's Live 97.1's Greg Henson reports on the controversy surrounding Detroit Free Press Columnist and "Tuesday's with Morrie" Author Mitch Albom. Albom is in hot water over a fabricated column that he claims to have written from last Saturday's final four. Albom's column reported that the subjects of the story, former Michigan State basketball stars Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson, were in attendance at MSU's national semi-final game on Saturday, which was not the case.

  • Column (The initial correction appears in the original column as well)
    April 3, 2005

    BY MITCH ALBOM
    FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

    ST. LOUIS -- In the audience Saturday at the Final Four, among the 46,000 hoop junkies, sales executives, movie producers, parents, contest winners, beer guzzlers, hip-hop stars and lucky locals who knew somebody who knew somebody, there were two former stars for Michigan State, Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson.

    They sat in the stands, in their MSU clothing, and rooted on their alma mater. They were teammates in the magical 2000 season, when the Spartans won it all. Both now play in the NBA, Richardson for Golden State, Cleaves for Seattle.

    And both made it a point to fly in from wherever they were in their professional schedule just to sit together Saturday. Richardson, who earns millions, flew by private plane. Cleaves, who's on his fourth team in five years, bought a ticket and flew commercial.

    It was loyalty, sure. And it was exciting, no doubt. But in talking to both players, it was more than that. It was a chance to do something almost all of us would love to do: recapture, for a few hours, the best time of their lives.

    "In the pros, you don't hang out with your teammates; everybody has their own life, their wife or their kids or their girlfriends," Richardson said. "And anyhow, you're together on the plane, at the arena, on the bus, 82 games a season. When you have time, you're just looking to get away."

    "You gotta miss those college days," Cleaves said. "We were a family at Michigan State. In the NBA, you're just not as close."


  • Correction
    Mitch Albom's column in the Sunday section said NBA players Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson attended Saturday's Michigan State-North Carolina NCAA tournament basketball game. They did not. Albom did interview the players Thursday night and Friday morning. They described travel plans and the intention to sit together at the game. Their plans changed because of scheduling conflicts. The Free Press should not have reported the players were at the game. We do not present as fact events that have not occurred. Albom's column appeared in a section printed before the game. The Free Press apologizes for misleading readers.
  • Albom's Apology

  • The Free Press issued this statement today A QUESTION OF ETHICS: Columnist's error being investigated Investigation
There are some questions about whether Albom is or was getting kid glove treatment due to his star power, but it appears that the Free Press is has acted quickly and decisively to address the issue.

So what happens to Mitch Albom? The jury's still out on that question.


Comments (9)

So what happens to Mitch... (Below threshold)
Mike:

So what happens to Mitch Albom?

What do you think should happen to him?

I personally think that since he is not hiding from his mistake, explained it and apologized for it that nothing should happen to him. It sounds like an honest mistake and the paper was up front in adding the correction immediately. It's not like he made up the interviews or took someone else's article and claimed it as his own. Fine if you feel he and the editors deserve a suspension, that could be justified, however, this is nothing compared to Jayson Blair.

I don't see this as a very ... (Below threshold)

I don't see this as a very big problem. It is pretty standard practice to have articles written about events like this beforehand, and this one didn't get fixed when the expected circumstances changed. Shouldn't have happened, but no big whoop.

Hell, give the guy a Pulitz... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

Hell, give the guy a Pulitzer....Rather & Mapes got a Peabody.

My problem with it is that ... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

My problem with it is that the article ran on April 3rd but his apology didn't come until April 7th. That makes me think that he was hoping no one would notice.

It does not seem to me that... (Below threshold)
Scott:

It does not seem to me that the real issue is whether the information was properly vetted, but is more in the areana of whether this reporter has had previous incidents like this. A review of Blair's work revealed several years of this type of behavior and an editorial management culture that allowed it to continue. What should be learned from the NYT incident is that not only must the reporters be honest and posses integrity, but so must the editors

That apology had more quali... (Below threshold)

That apology had more qualifiers in it than a legal contract.

I read Mitch in the Freep a... (Below threshold)
robert:

I read Mitch in the Freep all the time, and also listen to his radio show. While he is a bit too liberal for my taste, it is unquestionable that he is an honest reporter.

As a liberal, he has called Bush a "Fairly honest and straightforward guy" - an admission hard to make if one was not reporting objectively.

In this case, he was wrong and admitted it, no cover-up or lies. His record - as far as I know - includes no history of shaky reporting, only numerous awards for the opposite.

I think the readers will be... (Below threshold)

I think the readers will be more forgiving because he is getting torn apart on Romenesko, the journalist site.

http://poynter.org/forum/?id=letters

Reporters pre-write stories... (Below threshold)
JP Sobel:

Reporters pre-write stories all the time. I'm sure that every major news organization had stories on John Kerry's improbable victory over George Bush ready to go. Obits are stored on the shelves for years.
This one got out without proper review. The reporter and the newspaper have dealt with the mistake openly and straightforwardly.
In sum... no big deal.




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