COLUMBIA, Mo. — Investigative Reporters & Editors condemns the senseless death of Las Vegas reporter Jeff German.
The continuing police investigation indicates German may have been killed in connection with his investigative journalism, work that is the very foundation of our democracy.
“Jeff’s death is a sobering reminder of the inherent risks of investigative journalism,” said Diana Fuentes, IRE’s executive director. “Journalists do their jobs every day, digging deep to find information the public needs to know and has a right to see.”
German, 69, an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was found dead outside his home in Las Vegas the morning of Sept. 3. Police said he had been stabbed after an altercation the previous day.
On Wednesday, police arrested Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles on suspicion of murder, Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. Investigators executed a search warrant at Telles’ home and seized his vehicle.
Telles was the subject of numerous investigative reports by German, centering on allegations that he had fostered a hostile work environment and was involved in an inappropriate relationship with another employee. Telles denied the allegations and had recently posted comments on social media that criticized German’s work, accusing him of publishing “smear” reports. The county official lost his bid for reelection in June after German’s reports were published.
The Review-Journal said in a story Wednesday that German had recently filed requests for emails and text messages between Telles and others.
German, whose career as a columnist and a senior investigative reporter spanned more than three decades, broke stories on organized crime, politics, casinos and corruption for The Las Vegas Sun and then The Review-Journal. He joined The Review-Journal in 2010.
He was a current member of IRE and first joined the organization in 2001.
“Jeff’s death will no doubt have a chilling effect on some reporters and that is understandable, but it’s a loss for their communities,” Fuentes said. “Every citizen should be outraged by what happened to Jeff German and demand swift, crystal-clear justice. That’s the only way to ensure the spotlight of journalism stays lit for the benefit of the people.”
IRE’s Board of Directors urges all newsroom managers to have serious and frequent conversations with their reporters, producers and photographers who engage in this often-dangerous work, to remind them that their safety is paramount, to take all threats seriously and to report them immediately.
“IRE is shocked and dismayed at the brutal attack that took the life of the renowned reporter Jeff German,” said Mark Walker, President of IRE’s Board of Directors. “Our condolences go out to his family, loved ones and colleagues that reported alongside him throughout his career. Threats are not often carried out, but there’s always a chance someone will be angry enough to act. However, journalists everywhere won’t be intimidated by attacks.”
For many longtime IRE members, German’s death resurrected memories of Don Bolles, who died in 1976, after dynamite hidden under his car seat exploded. A veteran investigative reporter, he had been following a lead on a possible organized crime story.
Bolles’ death sparked the Arizona Project, during which a group of his IRE colleagues from news outlets across the country banded together to continue his work. Nearly two dozen stories were published as a result of that combined effort.
The last time a reporter was killed on U.S. soil in connection with their investigative reporting was in 2007, when Chauncey Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post, was murdered while investigating corruption and criminal activities connected to Your Black Muslim Bakery.
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