Democrat handled situation poorly

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 17, 2008

As a business owner and wife of a teacher and coach at Natchez High School, I am very disappointed in the article entitled “NHS athletes arrested.”

The title and subtitle of the article is inappropriate because they insinuate that all Natchez High School powerlifters were involved and that the incident occurred during a powerlifting event. However, four out of 16 members on a sports team did wrong, on their own, outside of school time, and the remaining members of their team have been put in the spotlight and will always be remembered as the “Natchez High powerlifters charged with grand larceny.” Mr. Cooper suggested on the comment section of the Web site that if you do not want to read anything negative, then you should skip the article. However, as a business owner who supports all schools in this area, it is difficult to make an educated decision about your investments when the local newspaper suggests that the school was involved in crimes committed by students.

A lot of local business owners do not have the advantage to know the truth of this situation because they do not have family in the Natchez-Adams public schools; therefore, the only information they have comes from your reporters.

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Secondly, Ms. Hood did not thoroughly investigate prior to writing her article. The first three sentences of her article are incorrect. The “Natchez High powerlifters” were not charged with grand larceny; four of the powerlifters were charged with grand larceny.

Although information was provided to the newspaper to connect these young men as powerlifters, you made the decision to publish this article prior to publishing adequate coverage about the state championship. You had both articles ready to print and chose to print the one about four members of the powerlifting team rather than the one reflecting the state championship and the accomplishments of nine members of a team of 16.

This lack of adequate research and poor decision making demonstrates an unprofessional attitude and a nonchalant way of reporting the news.

Most importantly, The Natchez Democrat is a local paper who failed to report on a very positive issue that happened for Natchez High School in a time efficient manner. Natchez High powerlifters won the 5A State Championship on Saturday, and Coach Joe Johnson delivered the information to your newspaper on Monday. The excuse that Kevin Cooper gave my husband that you do not have staff to cover small sports such as powerlifting is not valid. The information was given to your paper, and your paper chose not to report on it before reporting on the crimes of a few.

Natchez High had several members take first and second place in their weight category, two members set state weight records, and three members were invited to the qualifying meet of the national powerlifting championship to be on April 19, 2008. Only two of them that participated in the state competition were involved in the crimes that were committed. The remaining members of this team have earned and deserve to be treated fairly. You have taken that away from them, and for that you should be sorry and apologize to Coach Johnson and the remaining members of this team. I will also add that the majority of these young men are outstanding leaders among their peers and are visible in our community through their community service activities.

If any of you enjoyed the shrimp Saturday from the Junior Auxiliary of Natchez fund raiser, then you have these powerlifters to thank as we (JA) could not have pulled our shrimp boil off without them.

In closing, you have hurt them, their parents, their coaches and their supporters who know how hard they have worked and how dedicated these young men truly have been.

I commend Mr. Jeff Edwards for publically addressing this issue in the Sunday edition of your paper in a great editorial, and I challenge Ms. Hood, Ms. Finley and Mr. Cooper to do the same.

Kati Woodard

Natchez resident