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Paper apologizes for gun records request

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Moderator1, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    My goodness. All I can do is be happy that I never worked there and will never work there. Apologizing for a public records request?
  3. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah. I hit post too soon, sorry for linking without comment. I remember we caused some outrage a billion years ago when doing this in Richmond and discovered a very prominent local basketball coach was on the list. He promised not to talk to us again if we used his name in the story. We did. His boycott lasted a couple of days.
  4. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    One of the Facebook comments summed it up beautifully: Profiles in Cowardice
  5. Newspaper publishers have apologized for much less, but that's usually when they're groveling to an important advertiser.

    Why was the request made in the first place? Was the paper going to run the names and addresses of concealed-permit holders and applicants?
  6. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    When we did it way back, it was to show how far and wide the permits went. Not to run a list (pre-web, so we may have if we did it today) but to point out the nice lady next door and the local baker and, well, the big-shot basketball coach were all packing.
  7. Once you get involved in running lists, then some blogger runs a list of reporters' names and addresses (which happened recently), and then you have a bunch of people on both sides claiming their privacy was violated. Newspapers have to tread rather carefully when it comes to publishing data.

    Off on a tangent, but what's the percentage of the general public who knows their property tax bills are available for everyone to see? I had a former landlord who was surprised I looked up the info when he mentioned selling the house to my wife and me.
  8. RonClements

    RonClements Active Member

    Exactly. Nothing to apologize for. Pretty sad day for journalism when a newspaper feels like it has to resort to this.
  9. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    Yeah, withdrawing the request was bad enough. Apologizing to that extent was scary to read.
    In next week's paper: "Last week the Cherokee Scout ran a story about a house fire, including a picture of Mrs. Smith looking at her burned house. We apologize profusely for running both the photo and story, as it clearly violated her privacy. We ask that you, our wonderful readers, please, PLEASE find it in your hearts to forgive us for this terrible lack of judgement on our part. We promise it will never, ever happen again."
  10. geddymurphy

    geddymurphy Member

    Be sure to check out the previous letter written two days prior, stating that they had a right to seek the records but had decided not to pursue it in court.

    Boing Boing has the best comment on it: "In the publisher's defense, that apology was written at gunpoint."

    And the response: "But now we'll never know whose gun it was."

    The Romenesko comments are sickening. Power-mad sheriff leads mob to intimidate newspaper, and a bunch of ivory-tower namby-pambies blame the victim. No wonder I've started to hate my fellow journalists.

    Worked with the publisher way back when - in a sports department. He's one of the good guys. Feel terrible for him being in this situation.
  11. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Sorry. A newspaper that publishes or doesn't out of fear isn't worth reading, let alone working for. All papers have institutional biases, but that's different than just caving.
  12. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    Gotta agree with Gee. Unconscionable.

    That "apology" reads like the agitprop confession you'd be told to sign if you were being held as a prisoner of war.
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