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Good Reporting Isn't Impossible-It's Just Hard

Good Reporting Isn't Impossible-It's Just Hard
From Deadspin - July 17, 2017

This morning, Buzzfeed dropped a spectacular, sadly unsurprising story in which Jim DeRogatis further detailed the unsettling sex life of 50-year-old R&B singer R. Kelly, who was acquitted on charges of child pornography in 2008 and is now, according to DeRogatiss report, running an abusive cult within his inner circle of young women.

While the women discussed in this article are (barely) of legal age, Kellys behavior, as described by Buzzfeed, is still incredibly disturbing. Initially drawn to him because they dream of stardom and mentorship, these women instead find every aspect of their life dominated by Kelly. From Buzzfeed:

Three former members of Kellys inner circle ... said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records.

Other music writers rightly lauded DeRogatis, a former Chicago Sun-Times critic who has long doggedly covered Kelly, for his unceasing pursuit of the story, while discussing whether this will be the news that finally tanks Kellys career. One especially eyebrow-raising tweet, however, came from Jessica Hopper, formerly Pitchfork senior editor, editor in chief of The Pitchfork Review, and editorial director of music for MTV News:

This tweet is part of a larger thread detailing how more music writers need to learn basic investigative journalism skills, but the part about these major, unpublished stories is far more striking. Hopper has been one of the more powerful editors in music writing in recent years, and at MTV News in particular, she had both tremendous editorial resources and a stated mission to do prestige journalism. How did these scandalous storieswhich, if they stand comparison to DeRogatiss, basically any outlet in the country would love to have runnot get published under her management? (This is an even more pertinent question given her implication that she knows even more than DeRogatis reported.) Ill give you a hint: It definitely wasnt because junior writers dont know how to do public-records requests.

There are any number of reasons why stories dont run: trails go cold, decisive proof remains elusive, sources back out, tips run into dead ends, lawyers get involved. But it being impossible to run this sort of story is self-evidently untrue, and its all the more frustrating to hear such a claim from someone who has, since she left her job in PR, become one of the very people deciding whether investigative stories like this do run.

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