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Mary Kathryn Paul Sentenced in Hit-and-Run Death of Bob Lennon

Home Forums General Columbus Discussion Mary Kathryn Paul Sentenced in Hit-and-Run Death of Bob Lennon

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Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 179 total)
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  • #554195

    Bear
    Participant

    Walker said:
    We haven’t published anything on this story.

    Then clearly, you’re covering something up. ;-)

    Seriously, though. If you were to publish a story on the subject, would you name the individual in question, even though authorities haven’t brought charges against her? How comfortable are you with her name being aired in this thread?

    I’m not trying to put you on the spot, Walker, but I think these are legitimate questions. The thread started off with an accusation that Marrison and the Dispatch were hiding something in this case, either due to political or financial connections or to incompetence. That accusation holds a lot less water if Underground would refuse to print the same information.

    Moreover, if Underground is comfortable having the person of interest’s name publicized by its users, or even in a feature story, while the Dispatch is not, that raises the question of why there’s a difference. What makes Underground different than traditional media when it comes to weighing the rights of the individual against the public’s desire to know?

    #554196

    M.O.
    Participant

    Bear said:
    +1

    It’s not just Dispatch policy. Print media have traditionally refrained from publishing the names of people who have yet to be charged for a crime. It’s a matter of weighing the public’s right to know against the individual’s right to privacy. If the media jump all over a potential suspect before the authorities decide they’ve got probable cause, they run an unacceptably high risk of ruining an innocent person’s life. (Remember Richard Jewell?)

    The more interesting question, to my mind, is, should Columbus Underground hold itself to the same standard? If not, why not?

    The Dispatch has danced itself into a corner here. There would be no issue if charges-filed was really the go/no-go for naming someone in a case like this. When the organization’s bike blogger Steve Wartenberg was hit last Sunday, the Dispatch named the person police expected to charge (italics for emphasis) in short order. Their photogs followed the guy all over the courthouse. When someone in the Dispatch comment section mentioned the zeal with which the newspaper rightly chased down the perp who ran Steve down compared to the paper’s nearly two months of silence since Bob Lennon was killed under similar circumstances, the rug jig got interesting.

    First, a Dispatch comment section editor made a rare appearance to assure everyone that the driver who hit Lennon was not being named because no charges had been filed. Comments that linked to a state patrol report which named the driver who allegedly struck Lennon were deleted, as were comments with references to the driver’s family name.

    Then Ben Marrison published his usual Sunday here’s-why-we-did-what-we-did editorial and effectively admitted that the standard for naming names is all over the place at the Dispatch. For instance, persons who have been implicated but not charged in certain crimes might be named in the paper if they are persons in positions of authority, like, say a teacher … etc. He also lumped the Lennon driver’s name in the category of “not a matter of public record” … which clearly is not the case, as his own online editors repeatedly deleted comments linking to a public record which named the suspected driver.

    You would think that after a week of readers throwing this bullshit back in their faces they would at least wise-up and keep an eye on their comment section, but the unwashed masses had their say for over 24 hours after yesterday’s piece, publishing the suspect drivers full name and home address, not to mention several links to the crash report.

    #554197
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    Bear said:
    Seriously, though. If you were to publish a story on the subject, would you name the individual in question, even though authorities haven’t brought charges against her? How comfortable are you with her name being aired in this thread?

    We don’t typically cover crime stories from a journalism/reporting perspective, so the thought about revealing/publishing the individual’s name has never really crossed my mind.

    As far as her being named by commenters in this thread, I guess I see it in the same light as people discussing it on other messageboards, social media platforms, text messages or anywhere else. If it’s public record, it’s public record. People are going to find that information and talk about it somewhere.

    #554198

    groundrules
    Participant

    Bear said:
    How comfortable are you with her name being aired in this thread?

    Walker is personally responsible for everything anyone says here.

    penispenispenispenispenis

    #554199

    Anidem
    Participant

    This story is upsetting but at the same rate now I feel like an ass. What happened to the edit function, I thought there used to be one?

    #554200
    Walker Evans
    Walker Evans
    Keymaster

    The edit function disappears from posts after 2 hours.

    #554201

    Pro Se
    Participant

    The careful balancing of the public’s right to know vs. an individual’s right to privacy are serious considerations. But it should come down to verification. If the Dispatch can independently verify that this is the person who is being investigated, or “expected to be charged,” or at least a person of interest, from a reliable source, named or unnamed, then they have enough to proceed with the story in my view. A confirmation from a police source or the prosecutor together with the accident report should certainly suffice in this instance.

    What’s surprising is that the community is yearning for this information and its trusted source of information, the Dispatch–which is in the business of dispensing valuable information to the public–isn’t complying. That ought to raise some red flags. After all, right or wrong, the Dispatch is in the business of selling papers and a business in such a situation might find itself looking to serve its readers before it finds itself debating lofty ideals of rights to privacy. Since when were newspapers the defenders of rights to privacy anyways?! Maybe the Dispatch just has that much integrity or maybe there is something else going on here.

    Either way, the Dispatch ought to be reminded of its priorities to the community. If they start being gatekeepers, they will leave their readers with no choice but to get news elsewhere or from the source directly, as was the case here with the Department of Public Safety website. If they persist in this conduct, they will erode their trust, which is the sine qua non of any viable news source.

    #554202

    Anidem
    Participant

    Walker said:
    The edit function disappears from posts after 2 hours.

    Crap, serves me right for not thinking twice. I’ve got conflicting feelings about it, though. The cover-up has been outrageous but I see Bear’s right, it’s not just the Dispatch. What are your thoughts on being my editor in violation of media protocol?

    #554203

    Senator Tankerbell
    Participant

    Anidem said:
    Crap, serves me right for not thinking twice. I’ve got conflicting feelings about it, though. The cover-up has been outrageous but I see Bear’s right, it’s not just the Dispatch. What are your thoughts on being my editor in violation of media protocol?

    I don’t think you need to beat yourself up. The point of good discussion is to make people think. I feel that it reflects well on you that you voiced your opinion, and then were open to considering other viewpoints. Far too few people approach discourse that way.

    #554204

    myliftkk
    Participant

    Pro Se said:
    Either way, the Dispatch ought to be reminded of its priorities to the community. If they starting being gatekeepers, they will leave their readers with no choice but to get news elsewhere or from the source directly, as was the case here with the Department of Public Safety website.

    This is the trap the Dispatch finds themselves in. Not so long ago, the only way the public would have heard is from the Dispatch, but no longer. Beyond that, they seem to have little interest in exploring an obviously more than it seems story which a fairly vocal segment of community wants answers on.

    I’m looking at the rich vein to be mined here:

    1. Person named in the report has a history of hitting bikers.
    2. Fled the scene of the accident.
    3. Car has been heavily manipulated post-crash.
    4. Father made the call to authorities well after the car had been “modded”.
    5. Family is well-connected in town where wrecks take place.
    6. Person hit was a teacher with their own student consituency no doubt.

    Any newspaper that was remotely serving the mission of speaking truth to power would be all over this, if for no other reason that “if it bleeds it leads” still holds sway. It’s incredibly non-self-serving for the Dispatch to be so quiet on this that accepting that they’re doing it to be generously charitable to the name of the “to be accused” is beyond reasonble belief.

    Now, it’s possible authorities could ask the Dispatch to hold off on naming a suspect, but once the names out their in the least, most every paper on earth would have stopped holding back the minute they knew it was available to the public.

    #554205

    myliftkk
    Participant

    Bear said:
    +1

    It’s not just Dispatch policy. Print media have traditionally refrained from publishing the names of people who have yet to be charged for a crime. It’s a matter of weighing the public’s right to know against the individual’s right to privacy. If the media jump all over a potential suspect before the authorities decide they’ve got probable cause, they run an unacceptably high risk of ruining an innocent person’s life. (Remember Richard Jewell?)

    The more interesting question, to my mind, is, should Columbus Underground hold itself to the same standard? If not, why not?

    I disagree. Reporting who was factually reported to be involved doesn’t break media code that I’m aware of.

    Let’s remember there doesn’t seem to be much dispute that Mary Paul hit the biker in question. Whether or not you believe she thought she hit a deer is another thing entirely. The media could just stick to reporting facts, and actually researching claimed statements, and they’d be on perfectly safe ground here. Besides which an individual like Mary Paul’s case proving harm somehow in the American legal system is highly unlikely. The rules here heavily favor publishers over their intended targets.

    #554206

    Bear
    Participant

    Pro Se said:
    What’s surprising is that the community is yearning for this information and its trusted source of information, the Dispatch–which is in the business of dispensing valuable information to the public–isn’t complying. That ought to raise some red flags. After all, right or wrong, the Dispatch is in the business of selling papers and a business in such a situation might find itself looking to serve its readers before it finds itself debating lofty ideals of rights to privacy. Since when were newspapers the defenders of rights to privacy anyways?!

    Newspapers have had to balance the public’s right to know against any number of other values—individual rights to privacy, national security, etc.—for many decades. There are lots of good reasons for doing this. It’s the right thing to do, it increases their credibility, and it keeps them from having to eat crow later on when it turns out they were wrong.

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that the public is yearning for information like this. Let’s face it, the public is a pretty nosy bunch. The question is whether the public has the right to know the identity of someone who has not been charged with a crime. My vote, as a member of the public, is “Hell no.” The public makes snap judgments based on little to no evidence, and those judgments can have a huge impact on the lives of innocent people.

    Moreover, I don’t see the case that the public interest is hurt by waiting until charges have been filed. It’s not even a question of whether the public has the right to know—it’s a question of whether the public has a right to know right now. Absent imminent danger, that’s not something I’d trade for an individual’s right to privacy.

    #554207

    kit444
    Participant

    Bear said:
    Newspapers have had to balance the public’s right to know against any number of other values—individual rights to privacy, national security, etc.—for many decades. There are lots of good reasons for doing this. It’s the right thing to do, it increases their credibility, and it keeps them from having to eat crow later on when it turns out they were wrong.

    Not to mention the biggest reason: fear of a libel claim.

    #554208

    joev
    Participant

    Bear said:
    Newspapers have had to balance the public’s right to know against any number of other values—individual rights to privacy, national security, etc.—for many decades. There are lots of good reasons for doing this. It’s the right thing to do, it increases their credibility, and it keeps them from having to eat crow later on when it turns out they were wrong.

    I’m not sure naming a police suspect would require anyone to eat crow. If this were a developing case, I can see a day or two of discretion. But this has been several months and the suspect hasn’t changed.

    There’s at least some public benefit to naming this particular suspect – should anyone happen to be riding a bike in this area or accept a ride from this person.

    #554209

    Bear
    Participant

    myliftkk said:
    I disagree. Reporting who was factually reported to be involved doesn’t break media code that I’m aware of.

    But in this case, that amounts to naming an uncharged suspect.

    “For many years, naming an uncharged suspect was strictly prohibited in journalism. A suspect was not named until the authorities had at least enough proof — probable cause — to file charges. The idea was not to publicly, permanently besmirch someone who might be innocent — and also not to create legal liability for the newspaper or broadcaster by falsely accusing someone.” –Washington Post

    “Suspects are typically named when they are charged. We try to be pretty consistent on this point, but of course, there are exceptions. One is when police give us the name of a dangerous suspect they’re trying to arrest. … The second is when a public official has been suspended from work at a government agency before criminal charges come through.” –Sandusky Register

    … etc.

    myliftkk said:
    Let’s remember there doesn’t seem to be much dispute that Mary Paul hit the biker in question. Whether or not you believe she thought she hit a deer is another thing entirely. The media could just stick to reporting facts, and actually researching claimed statements, and they’d be on perfectly safe ground here.

    But what’s to be gained? Given that the police have yet to charger her with anything, why report on it now and risk a libel suit rather than waiting until they do charge her?

    I agree that the policy makes less sense in this case than it does in some others. But when you’ve drawn a very clear line based on many decades of experience, I doubt you’d want to cross it without a compelling reason to do so.

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