Journalism in the Public Interest


What We Asked U.S. Century

Last week, ProPublica published a story about U.S. Century Bank, a troubled financial institution in Miami.

Before we published the story, we made numerous attempts to reach U.S. Century officials for comment, including sending them written questions. U.S. Century responded only with a statement, which we quoted from in the story. (After a translation of our story was printed in two parts by El Nuevo Herald, the bank wrote us a letter to the editor.) The bank’s original statement asserted, “Based on the tenor of the questions you have submitted to us, it is clear that you have a very negative agenda.” So we think readers are entitled to see the questions. Here they are.

Barbara Brooks

Oct. 28, 2011, 12:15 a.m.

I’d say the questions sounded a bit prejudicial.  I would have asked them why they thought they had such a high ratio of non-performing loans compared with other area banks and things like, “What was your ratio of insider loans?” etc.  Then if they don’t tell the truth or are evasive,  you can present the facts you’ve gathered elsewhere. 
Part of a good interviewing technique is to ask questions in a way that catches the person off guard so they reveal something unexpected rather than making them feel like the deck is stacked against them from the outset.

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