Reporter thought BMW painful erection story was ‘a throwaway’

How did Courthouse News reporter Dave Tartre stumble across the case of the man who sued BMW for his priapism (a persistent and painful erection) allegedly caused by a four-hour motorcycle ride?

“It came from a routine check at the courthouse,” the 43-year-old newsman tells Romenesko readers. “I thought it was titillating, but sort of a throwaway story. A lot of the things I find at the court just seem to be more substantive, more consequential.”

The San Francisco-based reporter adds:

“What surprised me was how it just kept getting picked up” by more and more news outlets, he adds. (The six-day-old story remains on some Most Popular lists.) “What was also interesting to me was that the first five or six places that picked up the piece attributed it to Courthouse News, but then it dropped.”

The most recent stories, he says, didn’t bother to give him credit. (Tartre points out that he attached court documents to his story and some news outlets used those to produce their own accounts.)

Tartre joined Courthouse News Service in 2005, after years of selling medical supplies and working as a stockbroker. In his early years with the news outlet, Tartre would regularly see other reporters going through daily filings too. No more, though.

“There are a lot of good stories in new filings, but the newspapers seem to have abandoned coverage in this area. They just don’t check new filings anymore. They rely on plaintiffs to tip them, or they wait for a service like ours to bird-dog court news.”

* Uneasy Rider sues BMW for long-lasting erection

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