OLD Media Moves

Enron verdict stories out quickly on the Internet

May 25, 2006

The media has inundated the Internet with stories about the Enron verdict, which was announced at noon Eastern Standard Time. Some of them are standing out for their comprehensiveness in what the case means, showing that there were a number of business journalists prepared for the verdict.

If you’ve never covered a white collar criminal case before, the strategy is to write two stories — one saying not guilty and one saying guilty. After the verdict comes in, you and your media outlet quickly push the correct story out onto your Web site.

Bloomberg News has a comprehensive wrap-up of the case, including a quote from a white collar defense attorney in the third paragraph: “This conviction brings to a close the government’s effort to send a clear message to the corporate world that fraudulent behavior won’t be tolerated,” said David Irwin, a former state and federal prosecutor who now handles white-collar criminal defense cases in Baltimore. See its story here.

Bloomberg’s story appears to be much more comprehensive than the Associated Press story, which was put out at 12:24 p.m. EST, is just six paragraphs and has no quotes. The Reuters story is also short, but it includes the reactions from Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay when the verdicts were read.

The New York Times story, posted at 12:17 p.m., focuses on what the sentencing will likely be for Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling in the second paragraph and adds this nice contextual paragraph immediately afterward, stating, “For a company that once seemed so complex that almost no one could understand its arcane accounting or how it actually made its money, the cases ended up being nearly as simple as could be. Mr. Lay and Mr. Skilling were found guilty of lying — lying to investors, to employees and to government regulators — in an effort to disguise the crumbling fortunes of their energy empire.” Read its story here.

The CNNMoney.com story is basic, but I do like the box that accompanies the story and shows the diferent charges. It can be found here.

The Houston Chronicle story, posted at 12:15 p.m. EST, noted that sentencing will be held at a later date high up in the story and used a quote from former CFO Andy Fastow, who testified against Lay and Fastow and is expected to serve 10 years in prison, as its lead quote.

It will be interesting to read the second- and third-day stories that come out of the trial, particularly those that talk to the jurors.

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