EDITOR’S NOTE: Last week’s edition of the “Journalism Showcase” was postponed until today to offer a preview of tomorrow’s special Outside the Lines report.
– OTL’s Jeremy Schaap regarding the death of former NFL star Will Smith
Today the trial for the man who killed former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith begins. Smith died last April in an apparent road rage incident that led to him being shot and killed in New Orleans’ Garden District neighborhood.
On Tuesday at 1 p.m., Outside the Lines will air the first television interview with Kevin O’Neal, the best friend of Cardell Hayes, the man accused of shooting and killing Smith. O’Neal was in Hayes’ passenger seat the night of the shooting and says there is much more to the story.
“This is a complicated story. It’s about the death of a beloved football player and also about the case against the man accused of murdering him,” reporter Jeremy Schaap said. “It’s about a high-profile killing and what has been described as a rush to judgment in its wake.”
OTL producer Pia Malbran discussed the exclusive interview and how she prepared for it. “Every TV interview has its challenges and how you prepare for it depends on the subject,” she said. “Ideally, I think, all journalists would like interview subjects to be authentic and speak their truth even when they are answering tough questions.”
Interviewing any subject has its challenges – especially one who is in O’Neal’s position.
– OTL producer Pia Malbran
“The biggest challenge was gaining people’s trust and getting people to open up on and off camera,” said Malbran. “This is a sensitive story that has had a huge impact on a lot of people in New Orleans. I was very aware of that while reporting. “
Smith helped deliver a Super Bowl championship to the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, so there is understandably a lot of public attention on this case.
“In April, Cardell Hayes was portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, convicted in the court of public opinion before he was even charged,” said Schaap. “The prosecutors say Hayes had no right to shoot Smith. Kevin O’Neal, his best friend, who was with him that night, says otherwise.”