Enron Trial Blog Gets the Story

If you've ever wondered about what cologne lawyers are wearing to court during the Enron trial, you're in luck. The Houston Chronicle is posting a day-by-day, blow-by-blow blog of the trial. Steve Inskeep talks to Chronicle reporter, and blogger, Mary Flood.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

There has not been much electricity at the Enron trial. The early days of testimony about Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were notably dull.

Yesterday, a former company accountant told the jury that Enron dipped into its reserve accounts to pad quarterly earnings. That's the news on the business pages, but a more interesting saga is unfolding on a blog written by two reporters at the trial. They both work for the Houston Chronicle.

They focus on what the lawyers wear, like the cowboy boots spotted recently, or how the lawyers smell, or analogies prosecutors use to keep the juries away. Yesterday, according to the blog, a prosecutor compared Enron's business to the purchase of shoes or groceries.

Mary Flood is co-author of the blog.

Ms. MARY FLOOD (Reporter, Houston Chronicle): There's the courtroom that I'm sitting in most of the time, and that is where the actual testimony is, and then there's what we're calling an overflow courtroom, which has audio and visual just from the witness stand. And we have wifi in there, and in there, we have a reporter full-time, writing the blog on real-time.

INSKEEP: And what are you writing about that is not appearing in the newspaper?

Ms. FLOOD: Well, what appears in the newspaper what's most important, but with the vastness of the blog, we can go a lot deeper into testimony, and we can also include what's truly unimportant.

For instance, when the testimony's gotten really boring, there was a woman in the back row I saw at one point, who was doing an extensive review of her split ends. Or, a ubiquitous local congresswoman comes in and kisses Ken Lay and his wife. That kind of stuff doesn't get in the paper, but we do put it in the blog.

INSKEEP: You said the most important stuff gets in the paper, but I'm beginning to wonder if the most important stuff is actually what you just mentioned that's in the blog: the boringness of the trial so far.

Ms. FLOOD: Oh, we tell the readers of the newspaper that it's boring. They can tell just from reading the story.

INSKEEP: How boring is it?

Ms. FLOOD: On an Enron scale, its still not anyplace close to most boring. The Enron broadband case was so boring, the judge said she started drinking coffee, and I wrote three stories about people sleeping in the courtroom.

And perhaps least important of all, yet most important to our readers, we let them know when one of the attorneys wore cologne that offended a juror so much she was gagging, and we all had to take a five-minute break for him to wipe the cologne off.

INSKEEP: Mary Flood is a legal reporter for the Houston Chronicle. Thanks very much.

Ms. FLOOD: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Comprehensive business reporting from MORNING EDITION, NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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