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Media outlets paying for information in Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnapping case


At week’s end, the Antioch street where Jaycee Lee Dugard lived after she was allegedly kidnapped as a child 18 years ago by Phillip and Nancy Garrido was swarming with media. Satellite trucks parked in driveways, and cameramen and photographers tromped on lawns and knocked on doors up and down Walnut Avenue.

Neighbor Damon Robinson was in his backyard, talking with reporters across a chain-link fence, while another group lined up in the side yard, behind a clothes line, waiting to interview him.

Robinson eventually spoke with reporters from CNN, the Associated Press and The Times about the years he’d lived next door to the Garridos and about the time that his former girlfriend, Erika Pratt, had called 911 to tell authorities about her suspicions that something was seriously amiss in the gray cinder-block house.

Suddenly, a British reporter pushed to the front. He told Robinson that he worked for a media outlet in London and his deadline was fast approaching. He offered to write a check for $2,000 on the spot if Robinson would stop talking to other reporters and give him "an exclusive." Robinson complied.

In the days since, locals who knew the Garridos said they have repeatedly been approached by reporters -- American and foreign, print and television -- who have offered thousands of dollars for information and photographs of the Garridos, Dugard, now 29, and the two daughters she bore Phillip Garrido, ages 15 and 11.

The money can be tempting for some who live in an area pummeled by the foreclosure crisis and the sagging economy.

Manuel Garrido, who lives in nearby Brentwood in Northern California, at first spoke freely with reporters about his son’s past. But now he says he wants to be paid. "No more free information," said Garrido, 88. "Other people are getting paid.”

The elder Garrido said he had received $2,000 from one news outlet for an exclusive interview. "From now on, it’s going to be more than $2,000," he said. "You’re making big stories, and you are getting paid for it. Here I am suffering, so I should get some money out of it."

He said reporters have been hounding him ever since the story broke last Thursday about his son allegedly kidnapping Dugard from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood when she was 11 years old and holding her for 18 years. Phillip Garrido, 58, and his wife, Nancy, 54, were arrested and charged with 29 criminal counts in the case.

Concord resident Marc Lister, who knew Phillip Garrido and had some of his promotional business materials, said he sold one of Garrido’s own business cards, featuring a photo of Dugard, to a media outlet for $10,000.

Lister said he does not consider the money a payout. He said his mother, a retired teacher who died in 2000, housed battered women for years at her Walnut Creek home, and he plans to use the money to help the cause.

Lister, a retired insurance company worker who described himself as a "devout Christian," said he does not feel guilty about charging the news media for information, because it would benefit the less fortunate.

"I’ve got morals," he said. "This would make my mom proud."

Cheyvonne Molino, 35, who runs an auto wrecking yard with her husband, said Phillip Garrido printed their business cards and often stopped by with his daughters. After his arrest, Molino said reporters hacked into her Facebook page and stole photos she had posted of Garrido’s daughters, who had attended a party for her daughter’s 16th birthday on Aug. 15.

Now reporters are tying up her phone lines and filing in to her office to look for more photos.

On Monday afternoon, a television crew stopped by her office with an offer to pay for information. Despite rumors to the contrary, she declined.

"This is people’s lives," Molino said. "As much as I need to pay my bills, I can’t be greedy. I’m a good Christian woman. You’re not supposed to sell this."

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria L. LaGanga in Antioch and My-Thuan Tran in Los Angeles

Photo: Journalists and news media gather outside the home of Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy Garrido on Walnut Avenue in Antioch, Calif., last week. Credit: Arleen Ng / EPA

Comments () | Archives (70)

None of these people should receive any money. Most if not all of them are complicit in this in some way. They either knew he was a danger and did nothing preferring to believe, like his family members that it was LSD use in his youth or else knew there were children at a sex offenders house and did nothing or saw an obviously disturbed man who had supposedly three daughters.

The very end of journalism. What kind of valid information can be got for money, much less with such rapidity. No contemplation, no evaluation, just accept as fact the first thing a paid neighbor says.

I noticed the article doesn't state The Times' policy on paying for interviews. Could someone at The Times share that with us?

Why not?
Makes me wonder how much these reporters paid other reporters to tell them that they had to pay for interviews. It's a ponzi scheme of reporting. I blame the president of course.

Bless you, Cheyvonne, for not wanting to profit from someone's tragedy. The people who are receiving payoffs from news media will probably over-exaggerate anything they tell the reporters, and so again, our trust in the media will be diminished. If anyone should receive money, it is Jaycee Dugard, and those funds should be set up in a trust fund.

It is certainly an unsavory practice to charge journalist for money, but they are only REQUIRED to talk to the police during the investigation. Anything other than that is really fair game. Like I said, unsavory, but not illegal or horribly improper.

Yellow Journalism is alive and well, somewhere William R. Hearst is laughing, while Edward R. Murrow, David Brinkley & Walter Cronkite are spinning in their graves. Real journalists do not pay for news, they dig out the truth and report it objectively. And yeah L.A.Times, what is your policy on paying for "stories/sources"?

The media trying to make money on a distrubing story. Nothing new here. This story is sad that I say hang that couple, and let the victims heal.

A lot of people knew about the two little girls and Jaycee. WHY was the parole officer the last person to learn about them???

The man was ON PAROLE. He was suppose to have given up a lot of his rights when he was convicted. This parole system is not working PERIOD!!!

There are no journalist left. All of the outlets have a POSITION on a subject and now they are buying information Congress needs to establish some guidelines as to whbat constitutes the press they regulate everything else. Then those that scream about their freedom will have to meet a standard. They certainly won't police themselves.

Garrido was released 39 years early?? and was not AGRESSIVELY monitored by his PO and Local LE?? Garrido drove 150 miles to kidnap Jaycee with a GPS on his ankle?

He registered as a Violent Sex Offender with Local Law Enforcement and officers responding to his name/address weren't aware of his Violent Offender Status? Local Law Enforcement or PO weren't talking with his neighbors during any contact with him to make sure this Registered Violent Sex Offender was not offending or behaving inappropriately with children or other women in the neighborhood?

A lot of good manditory Sex Offender Registration with the local Parole Board and Local Law Enforcement is doing in a file at Police Headquarters.

Parole for Violent Sex Offenders requires Regular Random home searches and no one knew he was attempting to build hidden structures in his yard? 18 years and they weren't aware the structures existed? Why Not?? Why bother with Registering as a Violent Sex Offender if this is the outcome?

The PO and Local Law Enforcement should have been talking with neighbors. Some of the neighbors did call LE, but their complaints were not fully followed up, even when they disclosed the Violent Sex Offender status to LE
instead of the other way around! LE didn't even step inside Garrido's house, when he is a registered sex offender with Local LE.


Journalism is dead, yet I don't know what's worse. Paying for the information in order to "make new" vice simply reporting it, or as the elder Garridos says:

"From now on, it’s going to be more than $2,000," "You’re making big stories, and you are getting paid for it. Here I am suffering, so I should get some money out of it."

His son sure didn't fall far from the tree!

Let's begin with this question:

To what extent is the coverage received by this story commensurate with the story's newsworthiness?

I think that only a fraction, a minute fraction, of the coverage is warranted. The rest is pure sensationalism: feeding the ugliest side of the public's hunger for the sensational, bringing readers to advertisers at all costs, and so on.

In that case -- if it's really a perezhilton or a tmz story masquerading as a news story -- doesn't anything go, so to speak? Why should there be any rules? Why shouldn't the neighbors just make up thumping lies to be dispensed for compensation to pandering reporters?

I'm sorry, but I can't help hoping that the neighbors hire agents to ask for as much as they can possibly get. That might make such "news" less attractive to media outlets in the future. Probably not, but I can hope.

The implications that this has for journalism is just huge. So all credibility for non-tabloid and real news journalists just goes straight out the window. Disgusting and despicable.

The media is sickening. If a network has to pay for an interview, it's not a story that is worth telling.

Ive done over a hundred doses of LSD 25 years ago following Grateful Dead around, and since then raised a family of three, sent them to college, ran my own business, never had a brush with the law, and wouldn't ever consider doing something so disgusting and heinous as this man did to this poor little girl. Blaming the drugs is not taking responsibility for ones own actions. Millions of people have used LSD and never committed these kind of despicable crimes. Anyone who blames a drug they took is not taking responsibility for their own actions. This liberal Democrat says death penalty for both this man and his wife. I would gladly stick the needles in his arm and push the plungers if given the chance.

great point Chad, I would love to see The times' policy, as well-LA?

Sounds great, I hope they charge these vultures as much money as they can get. What can you say about a media that goes into a frenzy over a single missing girl returning alive while remaining absolutely silent on victims of U.S. and Taliban aggression towards children. Orphaned child amputees are literally being bought and sold like cattle in Afghanistan, that's not newsworthy though, is it?

The main reason someone would want to delve into the personal lives of kidnap victims like this is that the are morons.

The neighboors aren't the bad guy here, the kidnapper is the bad guy, the media is the bad guy, and their customers, people reading this tripe, are the bad guys.

BTW, LSD is about the most unsexual drug out their, if you want to associate a drug with sex crimes, look no further than your precious alcohol America, you retarded drunks.

Yeah, thats the kind of "devout christian" that makes me want to outlaw religion.

Congress passing more laws is DEFINETLY not the answer. Journalist need to be accountable for the biased crap they spew. The internet USED to be the place for unbiased news, but those days are long gone.

It's ironic how so many people criticize these folks - some of whom live on the margins of life - for accepting money, yet they have no qualms about people who make seven- and eight-figure salaries selling advertising space and pretending to be news reporters.

That guy was not a christian. Yeah Jesus told people to kidnap kids. James I think your bigot statemates are scary.

It is no longer journalism nor is it credible information when the media starts paying for it. what ever happened to ethics and morals in our country??

Before you bless Cheyvonne, she was on Anderson Cooper last night talking about how things weren't all bad for these young girls - AC had to stop her 5 minutes into it as she seemed to almost defend this monster. She's enjoying her spotlight regardless.

My opinion is that the paparazzi, the media, the reporters, make millions on exploiting people and their stories. So the little guy who supplies them with information that they can use should also be paid. If the reporter and the publication he/she works for is printing the story for free to inform the public out of civic duty then they should not be charged for the info. But we all know that is not the case. Just like any business pays for supplies, so they should pay for the supply of information.

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