Friday, June 22, 2007

The 5 "W's" of journalism

The 5 "W's" of journalism: (who, what, where, when, why)

One of the basic lessons for new journalists is the 5 "W's" of journalism (who, what, where, when and why). In the case of Scott Peterson, it is clear that almost all have chosen to assume that the 'who' is Scott Peterson, then arrange the other 4 "W's" to fit that notion. But consider them without that assumption. Let us assume that SP cannot be believed at all, then we have:-

  • When .. was Laci killed? Between Dec 23rd and some uncertain time about 1 month before April 14th.
  • Where .. was Laci killed? No crime scene has ever been found. Somewhere in the lower 48 or out in the Pacific is as close as we can come.
  • Why .. was Laci killed? No reason was ever given. The 'freedom reason' is only a wild and desperate guess with nothing at all to support it. It is circular causation at its worst
  • What .. was the way that Laci was killed? Once again, we have no cause of death, not one thing that even definitively leads to murder as the conclusion.

And yet from these unknowns, those who believe in guilt say they can conclude that the one and only person who could have done it is Scott Peterson, despite the clear fact that it was physically impossible for him to have dumped the body as the prosecution would have us believe and that this was the most ridiculous crime if it was planned at all as the prosecution would also have us believe.

The only way to make this work is to turn it on its head. This is the thought pattern of those who are convinced of his guilt:

  • We 'KNOW' Peterson is guilty, therefore since he could have only killed her at this time that's when he killed her.
  • We 'KNOW' Peterson is guilty, therefore since he could have only killed her in this place that's where he killed her.
  • We 'KNOW' Peterson is guilty, therefore since he could have only killed her in one of these ways (several were offered - none proven) that's how he must have killed her.
  • We 'KNOW' Peterson is guilty, therefore since he could only have this motive ('Freedom') that's why he killed her.
Therefore he is guilty.

This is known as circular reasoning.

What is very clear is that he would have to be the greatest criminal mastermind of all time AND one of the dumbest clucks to walk on the face on the earth. He would also have to be the luckiest man ever AND one of the most unlucky men since Job. He would have to be the most sociopathic person the world has ever seen - despite the fact that all previous evidence shows he is clearly a sociophile.

I also note that the prosecution's entire case stood on a foundation that Peterson was a consummate liar - but also on him telling the truth.

Some dogs just won't hunt.

Compare this to, say, the case of Carlo Ventre and his ex-wife Toni Dykstra. They waged an international custody battle over their daughter, Santina. In 1998, Toni died in Carlo's apartment. He said it was an accident; her family said it was murder.

  • We know where she died.
  • We know when she died.
  • We know what caused her death (blow to the head).
  • We have a good motive as to why she was killed (to prevent her taking her kidnapped daughter back).
There is only one person who can even remotely be considered as a suspect in her death and any reasonable juror must conclude it was homicide.

See the difference?

"I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who."
-- Rudyard Kipling

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