NYT journos reportedly taught to cover their tracks

The old saying "Be careful what you ask for" is proving once again sage advice. The New York Observer reports that the New York Times, subject of at least one federal leak investigation, is training its reporters to practice their art as if they were drug dealers, keeping no records, using disposal phones and generally leaving no trace of their contacts.

They blame the new procedures on Patrick Fitzgerald:

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has taken his place among the spirits permanently haunting West 43rd Street. 'The basic goal,' New York Times reporter David Barstow said, 'is to make it more difficult for a future Fitzgerald to follow the breadcrumbs of phone records and notes and expense slips from reporter to source.'
 
Mr. Barstow, the Pulitzer— and Peabody—winning investigative reporter, was on the phone Sept. 12, shortly before The Times began this year's round of legal seminars for the staff.
 
The sessions, led by Times lawyers George Freeman and David McCraw, have traditionally offered a brush—up on privacy, sourcing and general newsgathering. But executive editor Bill Keller announced in a staff memo that the 2006 version would address 'the persistent legal perils that confront us.'
 
'The main worry these days is not libel, or proving that you actually quoted something accurately,' said Craig Whitney, the paper's standards editor. 'It is being subpoenaed.'

Now, I've long warned that the New York Times would get burned by their demand for the appointment of a special prosecutor to invesitage the ridiculous claim of a major crime: their fantasy that the White House leaked Valerie Plame's not—so—secret name in revenge. Special prosecutors have a habit of leaving no stone unturned. Fitzgerald's aggressive interpretation of the subpoena power set a new precedent.
 
But if the New York Times is in legal jeopardy, it is almost certainly related to leaking real state secrets which actually did serious harm to national security interests.
 
According to the Observer article, Time Magazine, Matt Cooper's former employer, is changing its record keeping and retention policies, too.

One probable effect: look for all emails from reporters to be copied to their lawyers so a claim of attorney—client privilege will be available in resisting investigations and discovery.

I feel sorry for the poor lawyers! Imagine having to read the kind of stuff Time reporters write. Maybe those hourly charges aren't excessive after all.

h/t: Strata—Sphere   
 
Clarice Feldman  9 13 06

The old saying "Be careful what you ask for" is proving once again sage advice. The New York Observer reports that the New York Times, subject of at least one federal leak investigation, is training its reporters to practice their art as if they were drug dealers, keeping no records, using disposal phones and generally leaving no trace of their contacts.

They blame the new procedures on Patrick Fitzgerald:

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has taken his place among the spirits permanently haunting West 43rd Street. 'The basic goal,' New York Times reporter David Barstow said, 'is to make it more difficult for a future Fitzgerald to follow the breadcrumbs of phone records and notes and expense slips from reporter to source.'
 
Mr. Barstow, the Pulitzer— and Peabody—winning investigative reporter, was on the phone Sept. 12, shortly before The Times began this year's round of legal seminars for the staff.
 
The sessions, led by Times lawyers George Freeman and David McCraw, have traditionally offered a brush—up on privacy, sourcing and general newsgathering. But executive editor Bill Keller announced in a staff memo that the 2006 version would address 'the persistent legal perils that confront us.'
 
'The main worry these days is not libel, or proving that you actually quoted something accurately,' said Craig Whitney, the paper's standards editor. 'It is being subpoenaed.'

Now, I've long warned that the New York Times would get burned by their demand for the appointment of a special prosecutor to invesitage the ridiculous claim of a major crime: their fantasy that the White House leaked Valerie Plame's not—so—secret name in revenge. Special prosecutors have a habit of leaving no stone unturned. Fitzgerald's aggressive interpretation of the subpoena power set a new precedent.
 
But if the New York Times is in legal jeopardy, it is almost certainly related to leaking real state secrets which actually did serious harm to national security interests.
 
According to the Observer article, Time Magazine, Matt Cooper's former employer, is changing its record keeping and retention policies, too.

One probable effect: look for all emails from reporters to be copied to their lawyers so a claim of attorney—client privilege will be available in resisting investigations and discovery.

I feel sorry for the poor lawyers! Imagine having to read the kind of stuff Time reporters write. Maybe those hourly charges aren't excessive after all.

h/t: Strata—Sphere   
 
Clarice Feldman  9 13 06