The Asheville Citizen-Times today published a story delving into the background of Richmond Hill Inn owner William G. Gray, someone surely under intense scrutiny and pressure after a fire took out the inn’s historic, 120-year-old mansion. The story notes that Gray had medical licenses revoked in other states after allegations that he sexually exploited minor boys. Fire investigators believe the fire was arson. As far as I know, the investigators have not named any suspects.
In an unusual move, the newspaper slapped a “copyright Asheville Citizen-Times” tag beneath the headline.
But why? Why print a story about 16-year-old allegations that have nothing to do with the recent fire at Richmond Hill Inn? What relevance does this information have to the Richmond Hill Inn fire? The newspaper story doesn’t answer. By way of context or explanation, it just says that Gray has led “an unusual life,” and calls the fire just “the latest twist.” Gray’s property was foreclosed upon because he was behind in payments, and he’s got an ongoing legal battle with the former owners. Those are relevant issues. But old allegations of medical license revocations?
I ask because I also knew about Gray’s background, and decided not to pursue it because I didn’t believe it to be relevant. A tipster sent me a note on Thursday, referring me to some of Gray’s medical board records in California. I’m betting the same tipster e-mailed the folks at the Citizen-Times.
And why copyright the story? When I was at the newspaper, slapping a “copyright” on a story was a way of calling attention to it, and telling other newspapers to back off. After all, stories printed in the newspaper are automatically copyrighted.
I’ll answer my own question — the Citizen-Times is desperate for web site clicks and newspaper sales, and that’s why they published the salacious story. I won’t go so far as to say it was unethical of the newspaper to run with such a story, but I will say that it’s damn poor form.
Category: Asheville News