Earlier this week I finished listening to the nine-part podcast that accompanies The Boston Globe’s series on the 1989 murder of Carol Stuart and her unborn child, Christopher Stuart. The last two episodes of the podcast were the most interesting from a media standpoint.

Episode 8 covers much of the same ground that’s explored in the epilogue, thought it’s more expansive. In episode 9, Globe columnist Adrian Walker, who narrates the series, talks about the dilemma posed by Joey Bennett’s demand that his family be paid for being interviewed about how their lives were upended by suspicions that Joey’s uncle Willie Bennett was the killer. In fact, the murderer was Carol’s husband, Charles, perhaps with the assistance of an accomplice. As Walker explains, the Globe is bound by ethical rules that forbid paying sources — but HBO, which co-produced the podcast as well as a documentary TV series, paid the Bennetts a licensing fee. Walker explains:

HBO says it is part of a standard archive licensing agreement for the use of family photos and audio materials and that the arrangement is in line with industry practices. That agreement includes a confidentiality clause.

This is a world my Globe colleagues and I don’t inhabit. We can talk about the ideals of truth and justice but our sources can’t use that to pay the rent. All told, this is an ethical dilemma that sits at the very heart of journalism today.

I don’t have all the answers. In this podcast, we used audio of Jason’s interview with Joey. It’s a great interview — it’s good tape. All we can do is be transparent.

Walker is referring to Jason Hehir, whose company, Little Room Productions, produced the film for HBO.

I also want to bring up something that I wrote recently about the series. There is no question that racism within the police department, the media and the city at large was a major contributing factor in Charles Stuart’s getting away with his crime for as long as he did, finally jumping off the Tobin Bridge to his death as the police were closing in. And yes, there were a number of observers even at the time who believed Chuck was the real killer, especially within the Black community. We all need to wrestle with the legacy of that racism.

And yet there is the fact that Charles Stuart’s own gunshot wound nearly killed him, and that the trauma surgeon who operated on Chuck was convinced he couldn’t have shot himself. Surely that had a lot to do with Chuck’s nearly getting away with it. That doesn’t excuse the police for embarking on what was essentially a wilding spree in Mission Hill as they targeted one Black man after another in an attempt to identify a suspect. Nor does it excuse the media for abandoning any pretense of skepticism. But the specific details of Charles Stuart’s wounds shouldn’t be overlooked, either.

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