Was WTTG Unethical in How it Got a Jailhouse Interview?

By Kevin Eck 

WTTG reporter Marina Marraco and photographer Van Applegate are being accused of unethical behavior after getting an exclusive jailhouse interview with a man accused of recording child pornography videos.

The Washington Post reports Marraco and Applegate never told jail officials they were journalists when they came to meet with the inmate, Deonte Carraway.

“The reporter and the photographer went into the jail and removed all identification of Fox5,” a county official told the Post. Sources tell TVSpy the Post’s assertion the two told jail officials they knew Carraway from church is inaccurate.

“Fox5 stands by our story and the process used to obtain the interview with Deonte Carraway,” a spokesperson tells TVSpy. The Post reports:

There is no disagreement that Marraco and Applegate identified themselves as reporters once they reached Carraway, an ­elementary-school volunteer who police say victimized 17 children by recording them in approximately 40 pornographic videos. Both county officials and Marraco say Carraway was aware that he was speaking to journalists.

Prince George’s, MD Department of Corrections PIO Yolonda Evans told TVSpy if a reporter requests an interview with an inmate, the process starts with her. She then tells the inmate, who must sign a release, clearing the way for an interview. The inmate’s attorney would also need to be notified. Evans said none of that happened in this case. The Post continues:

A county law-enforcement official, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak about the episode, said the Fox5 interview potentially could create a basis for Carraway’s defense to argue for a change of venue for his trial. He said it’s unlikely that the journalists broke any laws by their actions.

Marraco’s story, which aired last week, did not include a videotaped interview with Carraway, but rather included answers to their hourlong conversation.