My husband handed me the Coeur d' Alene Press this morning and told me there was a follow up on the Boundary County story that had so riled me. "Pro or con?" I asked. "Rather like putting lipstick on the pig," he replied.
A six paragraph story on page 5 of Section C gave rebuttal by the defendant's attorney to the story as printed in the Saturday Press. Twenty one year old year old Brian Davis pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery for throwing a seventeen year old girl into a fire after stating in reference to her alleged ethnicity "Jews burn". At the time it smacked of a hate crime more than battery.
The defense attorney, one Bryce Powell, stated "If this had gone to trial and I put on all the witnesses, the state would have a very difficult time (proving guilt).
Of course that got me going again. Was he going to intimidate everyone into denial? Then I got to my office and found an e-mail from a friend who has been following the story in the paper of origin, The Daily Bee. She sent me commentary from Paul Harvey. In it he stated that the young man was indeed drunk. The girl declined to leave the party and had no real recollection of what had happened. It also stated that the parents are not Jewish - the father is Catholic and the mother Muslim and that the young man in his stupor determined that they therefore must be Jewish.
This thread had bounced back and forth quite a bit on Huckleberries yesterday and one commenter suggested it was sloppy journalism. Apparently so but by whom? Where did Paul Harvey get his information? Why does it differ so dramatically from what was reported locally?
The story in today's Bee differs even more. Sloppy journalism or smear tactics? I have no idea; an educated guess would be somewhere in between.
What concerns me is that another Boundary County story got even more play. A woman charged with felony forgery managed to escape from arresting officers by stealing their patrol car while handcuffed. The headline on the front page of the CDA Press today is that she has been recaptured. I do not diminish the importance of this woman's capture but it seems to me a girl being thrown into a fire and the perpetrator getting a plea deal is as, if not more, important.
This is the second time in as many weeks that stories have been handled in a questionable manner. My post of October 31 remarks on a local story about a group of boys taking pot shots at a suicide victim. Both local papers were guilty on this one. Guilty of the wrong thrust.
I know the local papers have fewer than needed reporters due to budget considerations but when I find myself depending on Bloggers to point me in the direction of accurate reporting I'm concerned. It's bad enough too many don't read papers at all. For those who do, they deserve more thorough and accurate reporting then they appear to be getting. For those who believe Bloggers are the wave of the future - this may serve as an example of why. In more and more instances the amateurs seem to be doing as good a job as the professionals. Caveat Emptor.