Some names aren’t fun to publish
One of our constant goals at the newspaper is to get more names and faces in today’s edition than we did in yesterday’s edition.
It’s a simple goal, one based on the fact that nearly everyone likes to see their name or picture, or those of people they love, in the newspaper.
Our belief is confirmed every time I walk into a local house or business and see a framed edition of the newspaper on the wall or a clipping on the refrigerator.
Whether it’s a youth softball score, a business promotion, an honor roll or just a story about where The Dart fell, we try to include as many of you as possible in each edition of the newspaper. It is, after all, your newspaper.
Of course, sometimes you don’t want your name in the newspaper.
Typically, page 5 isn’t a good place to be featured — you’re either dead or arrested, for the most part.
But obituaries and crime reports are some of the most crucial parts of any newspaper. Obituaries mark the passing of time and loved ones in our community.
And crime reports make easily accessible the information that is by law public record.
Whether you read the arrest listings to fuel the gossip chain or to know exactly who your neighbor is, you, and the rest of the public have a right to the information. Readers, from time to time, complain about the feature, and we are always interested in hearing feedback from you.
And though a more heartless journalist than myself might argue that crime reports are a means of getting more names in the newspaper, I don’t see this section of the newspaper as a means to fulfill our aforementioned goal.
In fact, sometimes there are names on page 5 I simply don’t want to see there, like today.
Wharlest Jackson Jr., the son of slain civil rights leader Wharlest Jackson, was arrested Monday on charges of grand larceny.
His name, age and address are on page 5 today, along with more than a dozen other area residents who were arrested Monday or Tuesday.
Jackson is innocent until proven guilty, and I certainly don’t know all that occurred for Jackson leading up to his arrest, but I hate to see such a well-known name connected with a crime. It is simply bad for his family and, in this case, the entire community.
Unfortunately, bad decisions nearly always affect more than just one person.
Jackson’s name isn’t the only one to grace page 5 that I wish had not.
We’ve published arrest records on employees, family of employees, friends, church members, city officials and more.
Every arrest — as long as it is made public as it should be by law — is published in the newspaper.
If I accepted the cash sometimes offered to me to remove names from crime reports, well, I might not need to work at all.
But accepting money to remove names isn’t ethical or allowed by my employer.
From time to time, we do discover instances where someone at a local jail has failed — either intentionally or unintentionally — to properly report all arrests. When we learn of these instances, we seek out that information and get it published soon there after.
Everyone in our community deserves a chance to be featured in the newspaper for the good things they have done, and no one is special enough to have their name intentionally omitted from the crime reports if they have been arrested.
Reporting on a community means printing the names and faces of the good, bad and the innocent until proven guilty.
Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551.