Why we report
Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2004
In today's issue and Sunday's issue, we published stories about something that we normally wouldn't cover.
Unfortunately, the circumstances, and the community reaction surrounding this event demanded our attention.
The apparent suicide of Woodrow Riley shocked this community, and the questions and rumors that immediately followed his death put everyone on edge.
As a newspaper, we have to make decisions everyday on what stories we will cover, how much time we can allow for each story, and on down the line until a story is published and hits the streets.
The unexpected death of a child is one of the more difficult topics a community newspaper has to deal with. Our first goal is to determine the facts as best we can, because we have an obligation to inform and dispel rumors with truth. But we will only print those facts that we can determine.
At this time, we've printed what are believed to be the facts concerning this incident. Since the investigation is ongoing, the picture of what happened – as with any investigation – could change.
But we also try to do these things with compassion and care for the effects our stories might have on those families. No story like this is ever the same, and we may not always make the right decision. Ultimately, we try to find a balance between compassion allowing the family some privacy in their time of grief, and our obligation to report the news.
Unfortunately, rumors consumed this town within mere hours of the incident.
We ask you to put yourself in our shoes for a moment. What would you do in this situation? Would you print rumors, harming the names of innocent people in the community? Would you report hearsay as fact, providing the reading public with an image that may be the opposite of what really happened?
These are just a few of the questions we have to answer under tight deadlines and with many other stories and tasks pulling at a limited amount of time and resources. Remember, that wasn't the only story we covered in these two editions.
We hope this provides you with some perspective of what we have done over the past two issues. We will continue to report on this as events dictate.