Early in 2004, a friend of mine who had been a top Metro USA executive sought me out to publish a sensational story about Metro. We met. The story, now widely known, was indeed sensational, and horrible. He said that two top Metro officials, Steve Nylund and Hans Holger-Albrecht, had used the "n-word" in front of large audiences at Metro functions overseas, one of which he had attended. My source refused to be identified in the story but promised to put me in touch with other Metro staffers who would confirm the events.
Now I had to make a choice. I had one staffer confirming the racist remarks on the record, and a strong denial from Nylund. None of the parties involved could produce a tape or transcript of the meetings in question. I repeatedly asked my original source, and his colleague, to put their remarks on the record. I felt that their intention was to use the prestige of the Globe to harm their former employer, and end the two executives' careers there. My two anonymous sources were making charges that amounted to "blood libel" against former colleagues; that raised the bar for ethical publication. I had to confront Nylund with his remarks. Why hadn't they? Why hadn't they objected to the racist slurs while they were working inside Metro?