So many times, in the newspaper business, I get phone calls, letters or emails asking me not to put names/stories in the paper (after being arrested) or telling me how wrong I am for certain stories that have been in the paper. I’ve heard all the same reasonings for the last 30+ years. I’ve also been told how heartless I am for printing such stories about who was arrested for what crime. I’ve also been told the public doesn’t need to know all these stories and I’m just doing it for entertainment and/or money.
Here’s the facts: this is a newspaper and the job of a newspaper is to report the news to the best of our ability. (I think our staff here does a pretty good job at that.) When we print a story about who was arrested, or arraigned, or pled guilty or whose house burned down it is because IT HAPPENED. We’re not making it up; it happened. It’s the same exact stories that the Sheriff’s Department is putting on Facebook and the same stories all the local television stations and local radio stations are reporting on. It’s our job as the media. In regards to saying the public doesn’t need to know about all the happenings and arrests – I strongly disagree!!!
For example, when we put a sexual predator’s new address on front page – you better believe every parent is very interested in knowing who lives around their children, or if their neighbor was just arrested for a meth lab in their house. Stories of students or employees at the high school being arrested or guns/drugs found will interest every parent who has a child at that high school. As my children were growing up, I always showed them headlines of what was happening in our town and had discussions with them about what was right and wrong. Twice a week (Wednesday and Friday) we put a newspaper out on the streets. Every time the newspaper is printed I have one page with bad news on it – ONE! The other 12-20 pages are all good news.
Why do people continually try to slay the media for that one page instead of patting us on the back for the other 11-19 pages of good news? The media (newspapers, television stations and radio stations) are all the same in their reporting techniques. The newspapers put the “hard hitting stories” on front page (which are not always “bad” stories. Examples of recent “good” stories on front page are “ACA wins state softball title,” “Christopher Fead, Jr. Signs Scholarship,” “Lisa Jordan Announced As New EMS Director”) and the rest of the newspaper is filled with the local stories of our community, school and sports happenings. Television stations and radio stations do the same; the first several stories they report on are the “hard hitting stories.” Then, they finish the news segment out with local happenings, health stories, the weather report and then the sports. My father used to always tell me, “Show me a newspaper publisher that everyone likes, and I’ll show you a newspaper publisher not doing his/her job.”
Always remember: We don’t make the news — we just report it!!! Until then….. I’ll see you around the town.