Too Harsh Indeed  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   October/November 2005

Too Harsh Indeed   

I always agree with Rem Rieder's editorial opinions. He's an experienced, professional journalist who I find is always right on target except for the Jim DeFede case ("A Punishment Too Harsh?" August/September Web Special).

I think former Miami Herald columnist DeFede does not deserve punishment of any sort. Since he knew Arthur Teele so well, he could sense that the man was in serious emotional trouble. In that light, it seems almost an act of public service for DeFede to tape that phone call. He was not going to exploit it in any sense.

Rieder's suggestion that DeFede should be suspended without pay seems too harsh. And firing the columnist was certainly an ill thought-out overreaction that suggests that the press critics are winning.

John V.R. Bull
Retired assistant to the editor and ombudsman
Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania