Local Paper Declares Itself Kobe-Free

While hundreds of journalists descended on Eagle County to cover the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case Thursday, one area newspaper announced it was opting out of the "media mob."

In an editorial Thursday titled "Kobe Who?" the Aspen Daily News (search) announced it would stop carrying daily coverage of the case, unless there is a settlement or verdict.

Bryant's second court appearance in the mountain town of Eagle, 60 miles away, was a fixture on TV news and was avidly followed by reporters from as far away as Italy.

The editorial said reporters are ignoring other good stories to cover the case.

"We're not going to add to that over-amplification, and perhaps the readers out there who feel the same way will enjoy reading a Kobe-less newspaper," it said.

The 12,500-circulation paper has carried stories on the case since Bryant was accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in July, including accounts of an investigation of media leaks conducted by the Aspen-based Pitkin County Sheriff.

One journalism expert questioned the newspaper's decision.

"While I agree the coverage has been salacious and sensational and damaging I don't know that's the best approach," said Kelly McBride, on the ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute (search), a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla. "I think it would be better to acknowledge celebrity cases in a minimal way and then use the celebrity case as an excuse to delve into phenomenon of rape in our society."

But Troy Hooper, associate editor at the paper, said the decision has won approval from the people who count — the readers.

"The reason we did this is we don't want to be part of pack journalism," he said. "Most readers and the public are sick of the story and overwhelmed."