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Editor's desk: Why we reported the possible hazing angle in today's story

We talked yesterday about whether to report in today's story that Carrboro police were looking into possible hazing in the death of UNC student David Shannon.

After discussion, assistant metro editor Richard Stradling and I decided to include what Carrboro Police Lt. Chris Atack had told reporter Jane Stancil -- that hazing was one possibility they were investigating -- and to follow up if they later said otherwise. Here are two paragraphs from today's 18 paragraph story. (emphasis added)

Witnesses told police Shannon was seen drinking alcohol Friday night and early Saturday morning, Atack said. He may have been alone at the plant and appears to have fallen from the machine to the concrete surface below, he said. Alcohol could have been involved, he said.

Police are also investigating weekend activities and possible hazing at the Chi Phi fraternity, where Shannon pledged, Atack said. An official cause of death won’t be released until the state medical examiner’s office in Chapel Hill completes an autopsy, he said.

Today police released a statement that they have no evidence of hazing at this time.

It's a tough call reporting information that may offend some and seem premature to others. I used to work with the best crime reporter out there, Julia White (now Buckner), who said we should always tell readers everything we know because you never know what piece of information may prove useful. In the end we decided to let today's story tell what the police had told us and let you decide its significance.

You can read more on what Carrboro police now say about the hazing angle here.

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