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    04.21.15 Professor Lisa Smith Hosts New York Times Reporter to Discuss Durst Case
    Professor Lisa Smith's class

    Professor Lisa Smith welcomed New York Times reporter Ginia Bellafante to her Criminal Practice Externship Class on April 13 to discuss ethics in the press, using the Robert Durst case as the basis for the discussion.

    The discussion centered on the HBO documentary “The Jinx,” in which Durst allegedly confessed to murder while unknowingly still wearing a live microphone. Bellafante questioned the ethics of “The Jinx” director Andrew Jarecki, who withheld coming forward with evidence in a timely manner to the authorities.

    "I would think there’s a human obligation to reveal something right away," Bellafante said. "But this is a murky case. It’s not journalism really -- it’s journalistic, but it’s a documentary, but it sets a new bar for documentaries, just in terms of high production value, and I could see how Jarecki the filmmaker couldn’t quite tell where to place himself in all of this."

    Professor Smith showed clips from the documentary and asked students whether they thought Durst's statements made into the microphone without him being aware constituted a confession. Not one student thought so. However, Bellafante said that journalism students (and journalists) would likely think otherwise.