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Front Page » November 15, 2011 » Opinion » Staff column
Published 891 days ago

Staff column


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Our rules of reporting crime in the area

The Emery County Progress and its employees have been getting some complaints about a certain article and picture concerning a crime and subsequent arrest which appeared in the newspaper on Nov. 1.

As the publisher of both the Progress and the Sun Advocate I would like to remind our readers of some points we adhere to when publishing news about crime or crime related activities that we have information on and particularly pertaining to this case.

First a crime was committed. The crime was a burglary at the Emery County Sheriffs office.

Secondly a man was arrested for it. That's news, because of the fact a crime that was committed and the arrest took place.

Third, the man who was arrested was not just anybody, he was a police officer (or had recently been one). This is a position of responsibility in the community, so therefore the story becomes something more because of that.

Fourth, he has not been proven guilty yet. He was arrested and no one should consider him guilty until he either pleads guilty or the court finds him so. People are innocent until they are proven guilty.

There are also some general things I would like to relate to our readers about our reporting of all crimes in general. We, as the papers' managers and reporters, have a responsibility to report crime and arrests. That is our job and the public expects us to do it. No one at the paper likes to see crime on the front page, nor even see it committed in the community. But it happens and it is the public's right to know.

Also remember that reporters and editors are not responsible for the crimes other people commit. They are not responsible for arrests made or court actions taken. We just tell the story. When people complain to us about the fact we reported criminal activity and what authorities are doing or have done about it, remember we are just the messenger. Physical threats, veiled or not, against employees of both newspapers are taken seriously. All threats are reported to law enforcement. In addition, threats of legal action against the right of the newspaper to print all or any news will be met with a strong legal defense.

Finally, I want anyone who contacts either of our papers to know that newspaper employees do not have to take abuse from those that are unhappy with what is printed. We are certainly open to correcting anything we have printed that may be in error. But beyond that those who wish to express opinions can either do so through letters to the editor, either in written form or through email. We do not publish anonymous letters. The letter must be signed have an address and a phone number where we can contact the individual who writes it.

A short phone call to the editor of the paper that outlines the caller's concerns, in a courteous and respectful manner will also be accepted.

I hope this clarifies our policies and procedures when readers have a concern or question about stories we publish.

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