07 December 2007

Don't Make Them Celebrities

The argument: publicizing the names and photos of those seeking media attention through their crimes is ENABLING them. I do see the argument that some lonely psycho from Omaha gets his photo on everyone's TV and computer screen after senselessly blasting away other people's lives. But it bothers me that so-and-so in my area might be passing bad checks and do I see his photo, name and address and get to hear about it? Suppose someone on my street were arrested for DWI... would I hear it on the news and see a photo? I do wonder if sometimes the only people who get that limelight (which should NOT be viewed as positive) are people who commit amazingly heinous crimes, or heinous crimes that are imaginative in some new way... perhaps more sadistic and cruel than we're used to reading about each night.

I know from my experience that even tiny local papers get read. People want to know what their neighbours are up to, and it isn't ALL nosiness. Once, as I was covering the police beat, a "not" got added to a "guilty" somewhere in my column. All you really have to do to make a mistake like that would be to physically cut the text (it runs in columns and you'd wax it down) incorrectly. It would be easily overlooked by the reporter and editor when there are about 50 entries... and it was. The fellow in question called up our office wanting to know if he got some sort of amazing pardon from City Hall and just hadn't been made aware of it yet... sorry fella. But thanks for letting us know of the error so we can print a correction on page 2 LOL!!

I think more attention needs to be given to local news. We don't need a novel about the Omaha mall shooter. A few column inches about how the depressed housing market affects "Yokeltown" would be much more valuable to the people in "Yokeltown." The nearest city metro would never get 'round to covering it, really. And I think the amalgamation of news is a shame. AP seems to rule about everything, and all it takes is a reporter or two not checking facts (or worse, being bought) and a slightly careless or too-trusting editor to really make a mess of the news. I guarantee that little mistakes don't get by for too long in the local news. Everyone knows too much about it already to just take YOUR word for it. And that's as it should be.

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