Retro Report’s Olsen & Michels: “Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man”

Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.40.09 PMWe hear it nearly every time news breaks. The Boston Bombing. Newtown, CT. Even the recent Navy Yard Shootings. Speculation on who did it. Speculation that often is spectacularly wrong.

But perhaps no whodunit speculation was more wrong that what occurred in 1996. The Atlanta Olympics, Centennial Olympic Park. A bomb goes off. One killed; more than 100 injured. But quickly – to nearly everyone’s relief – the FBI had a person of interest. Richard Jewell.

His face and name were everywhere. The media followed him from home to work and back again. According to widespread media reports, Jewell fit the profile of a potential terrorist. Many felt sure we had our man. Of course, it turned out Richard Jewell was missing one key quality: He wasn’t a terrorist. He didn’t commit the crime.

How did the media – and law enforcement – get the story so wrong? And when getting it wrong often means destroying an innocent reputation, why does it keep happening?

JP Olsen and Scott Michels are producers at Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that specializes in following important news events after the headlines faded. Their new video is “Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man.”


Ben Smith, Buzzfeed

With just 10 days to go until our nation comes together to choose our next President, we already have a winner in this election: Social media and crowdsourced news. The days of waiting for a bunch of editors or TV talking heads to tell us what is important are gone. Today, information trends – and the news that gets the most likes, posts, plus 1’s… in other words, the more information goes viral, that’s what the headlines will be. And it’s driven much of the political coverage, just as it will once the election is through. And the leader in this trending form of trending information is BuzzFeed. They have reported on the election from the start, and their editor is Ben Smith. (Originally broadcast 10-27-12 on The John Batchelor Show)

Andrew Heyward, Media Executive

Of all the areas and rules that technology seems to be rewriting, it seems no changes come faster or with more impact to our daily lives than media. From how we watch it to how we’re marketed to, to how content is created in the first place, the rules are changing almost as we speak. What does the convergence of technology and media mean for consumers? What does it mean for media companies? And who actually wins? As the convergence first began, Andrew Heyward was President of CBS News and he has spent much of the last 15 years thinking about this challenge. Andrew now helps individuals and corporations make sense of the changing media landscape, and he joins us now. (Originally broadcast 5-12-12 on The John Batchelor Show)