An article written by reporter Thomas Tracy in today's edition of the New York Daily News defies all canons of ethical journalism.
In a story headlined "NYPD Sgt. Boss ignores sit-down request from mother of Amadou Diallo who he helped in gunning down," Tracy said that Katiadou Diallo, the mother of Amadou, who died in February 1999, was willing to "extend an olive branch” and meet with Sgt. Kenneth Boss, one of the four officers involved in the controversial incident.
Tracy stated that Sgt. Boss let the olive branch "dangle," a clear implication that he was insensitive to Mrs. Diallo’s feelings, concerns and comments. This is so far from the truth. The reality is far different from what was written in the Daily News, whose reporting on this matter was both irresponsible and reprehensible.
The goal of the Daily News was not to tell a true story, to not highlight the heroics of Sgt. Boss upon rescuing two people from dangerous waters, nor was it to deliver a message of empathy from a woman who from within her heart expressed words of healing and inspiration.
The goal was simply to sell a story, to sell papers and to continue a divide amongst all of us. What the Daily News failed to report was they fired a senior respected reporter who disagreed with the direction of their story. Apparently he had morals, values and an ethical standard for reporting.
The Daily News also failed to report that they sat outside Sgt. Boss’s residence in the hope of capturing a quote from him, knowing full well that he would not talk to their reporter.
What should have been written are the facts, the truthful facts as conveyed to the Daily News, and that did not happen. On Thursday, Sept. 15, Sgt. Boss was one of seven SBA members honored as Sergeants of the Year. He was recognized for rappelling from a helicopter and saving the lives of two boaters who had been stranded overnight in Jamaica Bay.
The press descended on the function in order to interview Sgt. Boss about the Diallo matter, not the incident for which he was being recognized. While Sgt. Boss was initially inclined to make a public statement, it was jointly decided by him and the SBA executive board that this was not the forum to do so and that he did not want to take anything away from the remaining honorees and their acts of heroism. As a result, Sgt. Boss declined all interview requests.
Members of the Daily News inquired to me if Sgt. Boss would be amendable to meeting with Mrs. Diallo. I clearly and unequivocally stated that such a matter would be discussed in the future and it was a much bigger issue.
I further explained if such a conversation did ever occur, it would not be done in the glare of the media spotlight, that this was too important of an issue for Mrs. Diallo and Sgt. Boss and that this would be something to be discussed.
Apparently, The Daily News did not agree and was more concerned about capturing a “story” rather than potentially healing two people. By headlining the article, “NYPD Sgt. Boss ignores sit-down request from mother of Amadou Diallo who he helped gun down,” make no mistake that reporter Thomas Tracy lied. He was explicitly told by me, “Him (Sgt. Boss) and I will discuss.”
Mrs. Diallo's sensitive and gracious comments were as appreciated as they were pertinent. The Daily News taking it upon itself in having the audacity, indecency and unprofessionalism to spin the story into something so much more ominous and self-serving was a cheap attempt to sell newspapers at the expense of any degree of journalistic integrity.
If and when Mrs. Diallo and Sgt. Boss ever meet, it will not be done at the behest of a frothing media. I applaud Mrs. Diallo for being so fair-minded and courageous under such difficult circumstances, but it is also important to recognize Sgt. Boss, who has dutifully served our city as an NYPD officer and his country as a United States Marine who has been deployed to Iraq.
I am proud to have him as a member of the SBA and would work side by side with him any day of the week.
In no way was Mrs. Diallo ignored, so Mr. Tracy and his editors making such assumptions and casting such egregious aspersions about such a sensitive matter surely makes one question the overall integrity of the newspaper.
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