It seems that the alternative weekly news magazine, SEATTLE WEEKLY ran what seemed like an investigative journalism piece about crime story author Ann Rule. The piece seemed to a damning indictment of Rule’s new book about accused murderer Liysa Northon, claiming that Rule ignored a lot of evidence that Northon didn’t murder her husband. The piece seemed impressive enough on the surface. However, a huge disclosure from the author of the piece, Rick Swart was missing. It appears that Swart has a romantic relationship with the accused murderer and used the feature to paint his own version of the case facts. That’s a pretty big nondisclosure.
As bad as this conflict of interest gets, it now gets even worst as it now also appears that Swart is now engaged to the accused murderer. The editor of SEATTLE WEEKLY couldn’t be more proud of how he was duped into running an apology piece for a major crime story in Washington state. It had to be one of his proudest moments of his whole life.
Print journalism has suffered many blows as far as readership goes the last few years as declining advertising revenues have hard hit many newspapers and magazines. Now, a widely read local news source has been embarrassed by a major scandal of credibility for the news it runs.
All of this means that the public is beginning to learn what many advertisers have already learned, that some journalism just isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on after all. And that’s deeply sad.