On Thursday, the New York Times ran an article on their front page with the above title. The opening sentence read, "Opponents of the death penalty looking to exonerate wrongly accused prisoners say their efforts have been hobbled by the dwindling size of America’s newsrooms, and particularly the disappearance of investigative reporting at many regional papers." The idea being that, since the newspaper industry has faltered recently, the Fourth Estate has become weakened in its ability to assist death penalty opponents in an investigative and litigious capacity.
According to the Innocence Project, 238 inmates have been exonerated through DNA testing. Many of those were on death row, and some of those were freed thanks to the hard work of investigative journalists. Now that papers have less time and less manpower to spare, they see it as more of a burden to take on those kinds of projects.
Oftentimes, advocates would enlist the help of newspapers to file suits to obtain DNA testing, arguing under the First Amendment that the public's right to information meant that newspapers should be allowed to test evidence.
Also quoted in the article is our own Seth Miller, our Executive Director:
“The problem is that stories that were getting written three, four years ago that supplemented the legal work the innocence projects were working on, are just not happening,” said Seth Miller, the executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida.This is an unfortunate result of the industry-wide downsizing of journalism and, as well, the economy in general. Something few people think about is how journalism impacts not only on the public's access to information and original, incisive reporting about important issues, but on wrongly imprisoned inmates' access to justice.