To the laundry list of problems facing The Dallas Morning News, add another: A judge in El Paso ruled yesterday that a libel suit filed by a Mexican newspaper can proceed and will, in fact, likely go to trial in February. Says here--and not in Dallas' Only Daily, far as I can tell--that the owners of El Diario filed suit against the Belo Corp.-owned paper two years ago, "after the Dallas newspaper published a story examining how two leading Juarez newspapers, El Diario and Norte de Ciudad Juarez, covered violent crime--including the killings of more than 300 women in the past decade in Juarez." Says the Associated Press this morning: "El Diario claimed the story included 'false and defamatory statements that [El Diario] had chosen to protect the city's image--as opposed to publishing the truth about the killings and corrupt investigations, and had been rewarded by government advertising for doing so.'" Belo tried to get the case dismissed. No such luck.
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El Diario brought the suit on November 8, 2004, alleging "libel, slander and business disparagement." In a press release sent out at the time, attorney Joseph G. Chumlea claimed the News' story, published July 4, 2004, "maliciously accuses El Diario of compromising its journalistic integrity to insure lucrative newspaper advertising from state and local government." To which Osvaldo Rodriguez, El Diario's president, added: "We firmly believe in the freedom of the press to investigate and report, however The Dallas Morning News article has gone far afield from these journalistic imperatives into false allegations, reckless disregard for the truth and misrepresentation of the facts. We have spent almost 30 years building a reputation of excellence in Mexico, but we are still a relatively unknown company in the United States. The statements made in The Dallas Morning News damage the only thing that we can stake our future on--our credibility." --Robert Wilonsky