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Buffalo News coverage of Corasanti trial has aimed for fairness and accuracy

In recent weeks, The News has given thorough coverage to the manslaughter hit-and-run trial of Dr. James G. Corasanti.

Many of the stories on the subject have appeared on our front page, some accompanied by photographs of Corsanti, of his car, of lawyers on both sides of the case.

The stories have appeared on the front page, in large part, because of the massive public interest in this case.

I know, from personal experience, that the subject of the trial has arisen everywhere I've been in the past few weeks -- at a coffee shop, at the supermarket, at the place I get my hair cut, at the post office. Everyone has an opinion; everybody is talking about it.

Now, for the second time since the trial began, an attorney for the defense has asked for a mistrial due to The News' coverage. The first time, it was because of the proximity (again, on the front page) of the trial coverage to news of other car accidents, including a fatal hit-and-run. And this morning, Corsanti attorney Joel Daniels once again asked for a mistrial, largely because of a story in Sunday's News that he called "grossly unfair" and "provocative."

In both cases, Erie County Judge Sheila DiTullio denied the request after surveying jurors who said they had not read the articles.

Given the controversy, I thought it might be useful to describe what The News is aiming for in its trial coverage.

First of all, and most importantly, we are not in any way aiming to affect the outcome of the case. News Reporter Patrick Lakamp, a seasoned court reporter, has no ax to grind in this trial. Nor do any of the editors who are handling his copy, writing headlines or planning page design.

We are approaching the coverage from a journalistic perspective -- with the interests of our readers at heart -- not as advocates for either side.

Lakamp's Sunday story used information that has come out in the course of the trial to piece together what is known about the hours leading up to Alexandria Rice's death July 8. There was no opinion expressed in the story -- only a synthesis of the facts as we know them. That kind of synthesis is a key part of our journalistic mission.

The lawyers on the case are doing their jobs, and we at The News are doing ours, as fairly as we know how.

Twitter: @SulliView
Email: editor@buffnews.com
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