Oops

Oops: 6-year-old Betty Broderick story runs in LA Times*

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*Update: The Times admit the error below. Also I fixed some dates I goofed on.

Back in 2010, notorious murderer Betty Broderick was turned down for parole and San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Greg Moran wrote it up at length. Now for some reason, the Los Angeles Times has been running the exact same story all weekend in a prominent place on LATimes.com — with Moran's byline and lede as he wrote it six-plus years ago. It also ran Sunday on page 2 of the California section, under the Crime Watch label, with no hint that the story was six years old.

broderick-320.jpgBroderick is listed as 62 years old in both the 2010 story in the U-T and in this weekend's LA Times story. And the parole hearing is billed as her first since the much-covered murders and subsequent books and TV movies about the Broderick case. The only change I see from the 2010 San Diego story is that the LA Times website put a new time stamp on it — Aug. 6, 2016 at 12 p.m. — and after the story was up for awhile, tweaked Moran's second paragraph to change the timing of the parole hearing from "Yesterday" to "Last week." In the print version, the same time reference is changed again to "This week," which in a Sunday story would suggest the event is still to happen in the coming days.

Stories sometimes fall between the cracks on a website (don't I know it), but this is a big crack. Especially to then appear in the Sunday paper. The original 2010 story almost certainly never ran in the LA Times — the San Diego Union-Tribune was a competitor then, and only last year was purchased and now shares the same parent company as the LA Times: Tronc. Best as I can tell by searching the U-T's website tonight, they didn't run Moran's story again. It's only on the LA Times website. I also looked on Google News to see if there was a new parole hearing for Broderick last week, but nobody else is reporting one.

This looks like just one of those oops moments. But a not inconsequential one. The online story is currently number 9 on the "Most Popular" page on the LA Times website. Google Betty Broderick and the news story in the Times is displayed prominently as some current action on the case.

The Broderick case was huge at the time, from 1989 until her conviction in 1991 of murdering her hex-husband and his new wife in their home. Amy Wallace, then a reporter for the Times in San Diego, covered the case and it was to her that Broderick admitted the killings. Wallace wrote about the impact it had on her life and career in a November 2009 piece for Los Angeles Magazine, where she is an editor. Her magazine story set up the parole hearing that the U-T covered in 2010 and the LA Times covered this weekend.

The hearing itself featured Broderick's children being divided on whether she should be freed from her life sentence, and the parole panel deciding she should remain in prison. The original story in the Union-Tribune talks about where the lawyers and judge in the Broderick case are now.

As for Greg Moran, he is now a member of the Union-Tribune's investigative reporting team. This is not his first LA Times byline. He has been getting credit on recent Times pickups from San Diego, including on the Trump University court case there.

9 a.m. Monday update: The Times acknowledges in the error in a short note on the story at 8:04 a.m. and puts a new label on it: "From the Archives."

For the record: This story was originally published by the San Diego Union-Tribune in January 2010 when Betty Broderick was last denied parole. The Times inadvertently republished it Saturday with an August 2016 date, making it appear that she had just been denied parole. Broderick is in prison today. She is now 68. The Times regrets the error.

But not before Shelby Grad, the assistant managing editor for California news, tweeted the 2010 story as new news.


More by Kevin Roderick:
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Oops: 6-year-old Betty Broderick story runs in LA Times*
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