News council: paper's coverage was unfair

The Minnesota News Council determined Thursday that a weekly newspaper in Buffalo, Minn., was unfair in its coverage of a rape case.

News Council members voted 15-7 to rule that the Wright County Journal-Press failed to fairly and adequately cover the story. The sexual assault occurred Jan. 5, 2003, and a suspect, William Tyric Bell, was arrested Jan. 13. He entered a negotiated guilty plea in Wright District Court on Oct. 10.

The complaint was brought to the News Council by an advocacy group, the Center for Victims of Professional Abuse, which argued on Bell's behalf that the newspaper's coverage was biased against him and didn't allow him a chance to respond to the charges.

The News Council is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization that promotes media ethics and provides a forum for news issues and complaints against news media. The council membership consists of journalists and public members. Jay Furst, Post-Bulletin managing editor, is a board member and participated in Thursday's hearing.

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