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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Cindy A. Rose |


As Long as We Remember...

July 25, 2013

Don't Filter the News

Harry M. Covert

When reporters report the news, they're not participating in a popularity contest. They're supposed to give the facts fairly and objectively.


There is great misunderstanding among many news consumers that only good news should fill news pages. This doesn't work. Never has.


A Pennsylvania publisher once committed to printing only good news. Circulation and advertising dropped quickly, and within a few months and massive financial losses, the publication became history.


The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving terrorist brother in the Boston Marathon bombing, had his boyish face plastered over a national magazine has caused great consternation. Some said it made him like a "rock star." Pooh.


Thankfully Americans have the benefit of guaranteed constitutional freedom of the press and freedom of speech. News judgment – more often than not – is questioned to high heaven. That's fine and proper.


The weeping and wailing about the tragedy brought about by Mr. Tsarnaev and his dead brother in Boston will never be forgotten and shouldn't.


This young killer, as he's been charged, is despicable and the majority of Americans would like him sentenced to death. He'll probably be found guilty and given life.


Lots of stories and news coverage in Frederick's news providers aren't always popular. But there are lots of good ones that report about all of the county's towns and communities, the politics, civic clubs, public and private schools and so many other sources.


It's a good thing that news dissemenators pay attention to political leaders and government and keep inquiring about every facet of the work done on behalf of citizens. Where else would taxpayers and each and every resident know about the details? They wouldn't. Reporters do keep the "foxes out of the hen house."


People grumbled about the terrorist's picture on a national magazine cover. Without a doubt a majority of the complainers, and they certainly have the right to gripe, have never bought a copy of that publication. Chances are they will never read the story.


Watching the horrors of the bombings was sickening. But it was exciting to see just how law enforcement tracked down the surviving terrorist hiding in the boat.


It would have been more exhilarating to see all of the pictures – his shooting and capture – on the front pages and all over the media. Probably too savage for many to see, but at the moment blood thirst was flowing freely throughout the land.


How easy it is to sit in comfortable lounge chairs or on couches to watch news events, and then proceed to the most popular game in the country – second guessing the men and women who have to capture the shooters, the bombers, the terrorists.


These people must deal with all types of people and they are not all sweet and nice. Think a moment – and intoxicated person spits or points a handgun or shotgun at law enforcement, or a citizen allows his dog to attack a neighbor or a policeman, or an unruly customer in a beer joint or some other public place decides to be a tough guy with the deputy.


These are not Sunday School class events. A smile and a handshake don't make the antagonist see the light. Be practical here, somebody is going to get hurt or dead in these situations.


Every resident of Frederick County and every reporter and editor, young and old alike, should take a tour of the nicely-named Adult Detention Center. Let them put up with the profanity, the threats to other inmates and to those guarding them. Better yet, take the big test when inmates hurl human excrement at staff and see the reactions.


Be assured the Department of Justice won't be visiting to look for civil rights violations of the sheriff's staff.


Censoring the news, written and photographed, is not appropriate. Those who don't like the tabloids or the news, the advice is simple: don't buy the publications. Don't like what is broadcast on radio or television, use the off knob or button. Don't like various columnists and commentators, ignore their writings and orations.


News judgments vary. It would have been a grand front page color photograph if the Tsarnaev brothers had met their end sprawled out at the finish line. That would have been news on the order of the Pulitzer Prize.


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