Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ready To Play Editor?

Folks responsible for Akron-area print layout and newscast stacking had a choice to make on Monday: what plays first, the death of a five-year old Akron boy in a Sunday Albrecht Avenue house fire or the death of a Chagrin Falls co-ed in a Sunday North Carolina beach house blaze that killed her and six fellow college students.

These are the editorial decisions loaded with scrutiny; a young boy or a young woman, both deaths are tragic. One involved what firefighters believe is a pan of hot oil left over from frying chicken wings racing through an Akron home without smoke detectors; the other sparked on a deck and quickly racing through the beach house where college kids were relaxing away the weekend. Both avoidable with care, our hearts tell us, both horrible accidents ending young lives full of promise.

But what’s your lead? You’re in the news business so one story has to run first. Do you make your decision based on location? If so, Akron tops North Carolina. Is your primary consideration the date of the tragedy? You’ll be splitting some hairs on this. The Akron fatal fire came in the wee hours of Sunday morning while the North Carolina blaze broke out late Sunday night. Is the story best told by pictures, and does the more spectacular scene of huge flames caught by citizen journalist aired on CNN trump the next-day photos of burned-out home shot by your weekend crew in Summit County?

One is now yesterday’s report; the other now dominates the national headlines.

The question not many want to ask, much less answer: do you base your decision on the makeup of the victim? My question doesn’t have a right answer, especially so close to the pain two families and friends are feeling right now, but it is worth asking.

The media has struggled with charges there is a caste system in place when telling stories of tragedy. The best example is the story of missing Mountain Brook, Alabama teen Natalie Holloway during a class trip in Aruba. Many, including myself, were critical of the tenor of the continuing coverage so prominently displaying the picture of blond innocence as a poster for the story while so many other children – not so blond, not so white, not from such an affluent area, weren’t worthy of the nightly talk show spotlights.

This case makes me wonder about the decision making process, too. Two families ripped by tragedy, one white and the other not-so-white. One complete with attractive photographs, the other without the graphics. One from a middle-upper class background (hey, it’s Chagrin Falls) and the other from Ellet (I’d wager most Cleveland TV producers would be hard-pressed to point out what side of Akron Ellet is on…).

Does race matter? Does economic and social class matter? Is it inappropriate to even bring the issue up for thought and discussion in our newsrooms?

My friend John Butte thinks these are just the issues we should be talking about in our newsrooms. He’s the GM of WEWS but comes to the top job from the news director route. John’s behind a committee of Cleveland and Akron news organizations (we’re the only Akron group represented at this point; the PD, all Cleveland TV and most of the Cleveland radio groups are also on the panel) looking at issues of inclusion, and whether we do a good enough job of reporting on and portraying our communities.

Diversity does matter, including when it is more than black and white issues that come to mind when we use words such as “diversity” and “inclusion”. At the very least we should be challenging ourselves in our newsrooms to give more thought to our editorial decisions other than “what’s our lead”. We should be asking “why”, too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Auditor's Trigger

Some interesting chat coming out of City Hall on the appointment of Phil Young as Akron's new Police Auditor -- and what prompted the powers-that-be to get off the dime and get him on the job.

Turns out it was the job market, my sources tell me.

Everyone knew Young's appointment was coming; Eric Mansfield reported it in his blog, AkronNewsNow reported it online July 24th and anyone between a city badge and city budget knew who would fill the post...but the Mayor's media mavens pretended it wasn't official and wouldn't be until after Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh released her report on the Vinson shooting.

Well, Walsh's final report is still sitting on a desk somewhere in her office...so why did Mayor Plusquellic finally put Phil out for everyone to see before the Don left for a trip to Germany?

He had to get moving because South High Street wasn't the only government entity wanting to make sure the retired Highway Patrol Officer on the payroll. The Strickland Administration knows a good thing when they see it and they were pushing hard to get Young on the state payroll, the heck with the locals who were looking like they couldn't make up their minds. Faced with the prospect of announcing his choice for Police Auditor was leaving the job before he even started finally prodded the Administration to move.

Quickly it wasn't; there are still plenty of questions on just what the Administration was really waiting for. Young could have started working months ago and they could have easily noted he wouldn't be working the Vinson case. Would Young would be at work today if City Hall wasn't forced to man up and get the deal done?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Amazing Mr. Harris

What an amazing experience at the Project GRAD dinner Wednesday evening -- thanks in large measure to a Buchtel alum sharing a most basic story of how his journey really began.

Leon Harris went from Akron kid to Ohio University grad to CNN intern to CNN producer to CNN anchor and now sits in the big chair anchoring for WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. Heck of a ride for a local kid, but his homecoming talk centered on what he emotionally described as the pivotal moment in determining just who he really is.

It came, he told a riveted audience of 325+, while on assignment in Africa -- an assignment he really didn't want. With free time before a flight out of Dakar, Senegal he visited Goree Island (this Wikipedia entry doesn't do justice to the description Harris provided), the final stop for cargo (human and otherwise) bound for the Americas. Unseen hands held on to him, he recounted, forcing an epiphany of the heart and soul. It clearly drives who Leon Harris is today, and where he wants to be.

His message was powerful and clear: the miracles, he called it, of directing his DNA to this very spot and time, miracles we all share in many ways but take for granted. Unseen hands pushing and pulling us to places and roles we can choose to play in leading others.

What gave Leon Harris even more impact was the extended family sharing this First Annual Achieving Dreams Celebration, honoring the teachers such as Erie Island Principal Johnnette Snowden Curry; the parents such as Russel Neal, Jr; the volunteers such as Susan Vogelsang and James Toles and the big names who gave of their time and passion such as Akron Superintendent Sylvester Small, University President Luis Proenza, Council President Marco Sommerville, Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh, Deputy Mayor Billy Soule -- role models in their own rights for making their own dreams reality.

By the way -- best line of the night went to Small, who noted he was always nervous in the spotlight because he felt it wasn't right to be recognized for doing what God intended us to be doing all along.

This wasn't your typical non-profit dinner; I wasn't alone among the crowd perched on the edge of our seats sharing the moments and the motivations to take what we heard to heart. I expected a nice speech from Leon but not the real and deep emotion of his personal testimony on what life can bring us and the ultimate responsibility we hold in helping others make their dreams come true.

Leon Harris gives generously to Project GRAD, helping extend 50 scholarships to 100 and even signing over his usual speaking fee entirely to Buchtel High -- that's $5,000 for those of you keeping score.

Lessons from the heart combined with putting his money where his mouth is: that's a great example for anyone stepping up and taking responsibility for the world around him.

Amazing work, Mr. Harris.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pry's Perfect Planning

We aren't even into the 2007 General Election and already it's fun to check out the early sniping between the Akron Lords of the Ring.

Russ Pry will announce tomorrow (Wednesday -- AkronNewsNow story here) he will try to make appointed elected with a run for the Summit County Executive job. He's been in the post since Jim McCarthy retired last summer, holding down not only the top county post but also holding on to the Democratic Party chairmanship.

Nice work if you can get it, and so far Pry's done a nice job of showing the doubters (myself included) that he's got a pretty good handle on not only talking the talk but also walking the walk. Pry's not only got the look down but he projects the leadership style folks look for in an executive-level post in the time he's been running the show. He clearly has a style different than McCarthy's rough-and-tumble moving up the ladder: Pry is smoother, appears to work more on building consensus and he hasn't missed many opportunities to build on those relationships as a constant presence on major political issues such as CSB, the Urban League's new headquarters building, trying to find the peace over management of the Summit County Fairgrounds and even tackling animal control.

By the way, the County is still doing it's water and sewer and economic development thing, too.

Folks expecting missteps have yet to be rewarded; so far no snide wars involving some of the more mercurial members of County Council. Pry gets high marks from other county elected officials, including GOP office holders in an environment where serving as County Executive usually means wearing a target on your chest because you control the flow of dough. Summit County is unique; the only county in Ohio with a charter government, one where a legislative body works with an executive branch (what a novel thought).

There's one job Pry's been holding that preps him well for 2008's election shenanigans now that his name's on a ballot a couple hundred thousand voters will decide on: a member of the Summit County Elections Board.

The Beacon Journal got some pithy thoughts from GOP Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's (Yin to Pry's Yang on paper even though it's really seen as an Alex v. Wayne Jones fight) on Pry's plans. Arshinkoff says Pry's been acting "like a Democratic officeholder" for his first 100 days.

No kidding, Alex -- Pry has been the Democratic officeholder, and with a reported $100k already in the kitty and the likelihood of banking even more makes him a strong opponent for any Republican. Or Democrat who thinks they can take him for a spin in the March primary.

Regardless of how he got there he's the incumbent, which is golden in a year of presidential and congressional politics. So long as Pry doesn't stumble, so long as there's no negatives, so long as there's no scandal it'll be tough for opponents to tag him as a rookie (not true since July) or too partisan (talk to the GOP'ers who govern with him) to force a change.

Shy of big names such as a Robart (unlikely) or a Coughlin (now waging a fight to the death with Alex for the GOP committee) there isn't a long line of Republican candidates in the wings ready for a bruising battle with the Democratic machine behind a well-financed incumbent -- even if he hasn't won a single election for the job he's holding.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Best Weekend Political Story

A year to go before the 2008 Presidential election: the airwaves and print pages are full of this observation or that keynote on what makes Hillary or Barack or Fred or Rudy and the rest of the gang tick, who's the best, who's the wisest, who's the most caring, what their policies mean.

At this point it's just yapping...my favorite comes from The Sunday Times (that's in London, friends) and this piece on true love -- or at least the display for political gain.

Was Socks the cat dumped because it was just too difficult to keep the pet love going strong, what with Bill traveling the world to pick up checks for speeches, Hillary otherwise occupied in the Senate and Chelsea moving on in her own life? Couldn't the Secret Service protecting the Clinton home outside New York City be trusted to take care of Socks when no one was home?

Does this really surprise anybody?

Politics at this level is more about symbolism than reality; take the test of knowing what a gallon of milk costs. It's a nice media trick, attempting to show whether our candidates are human and just regular folks. But would you rather have the leaders of the free world understand macro-global-economics or what we pay for a gallon of milk?

Note: I can't tell you what a gallon of milk costs because my wife does most of the grocery shopping.

All these sidebar stories really accomplish is feeding the marketing machines known as political campaigns, desperately seeking any material to showcase their particular political horse rather than actually focus on issues and specifics. It's easier to talk about where the cat went -- or how sad Socks BFF Buddy didn't last long after leaving the White House -- than get down and dirty on what health reform really entails.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Why I Can't Watch The Tribe

I love the Indians. Have since we moved to Ohio in the 60s. Cut my Ohio broadcast teeth working Indians games for the former WWWE in the 90s. Loved the old stadium, too. Was there for the opening of Jacobs Field, both the '95 and '97 World Series runs, even last year's low times.

But I just can't watch the Indians on TV for this run.

It's because I'm convinced it's a jinx.

My cousin Gene (the Yankees fan) admits he does the same thing; tune in, see our teams with big leads, then stare in horror as it all fades away. It happened in the NY series for that one game for me; last Friday I watched against the Red Sox when they creamed us. Tuesday I tuned in late to see three Boston homers back to back to back before I turned it off, afraid another second watching meant the end.

At this point I can hear my buddy Bob Salsberg of the AP in Boston screaming at me to turn the damn game on; he's probably calling the switchboard at Fox 8 in Cleveland to figure out how to beam those pictures directly into my jinxing eyeballs so his Sox can come closer to going back home to play more baseball instead of heading south to play golf. Sorry, Bob, it just ain't gonna happen. My mind's made up: my eyes will be shut tight to any images of Chief Wahoo sending your boys packing.

The jinx doesn't work on radio; I listen, then win (most of the time this season); the jinx doesn't work in person: they win them, too. Going online to check it out? They win. But turn on the tube and the tables turn.

In the full interests of my fellow fans, I will NOT watch ANY of the game tonight. I've already got the DVR ready with reruns of Law and Order, Shark, even Two and a Half Men. I might even watch the rerun of Desperate Housewives despite Diane's wishes to keep it fresh until she comes back from an out-of-town business trip. Even she watches the games, then tells me about it the next day. She's watched her beloved Tigers and even Twins move on to win World Championships so her fandom has proven to be non-fatal. As for me: the pain of true support for my team.

Not watching. But still waiting.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

FREE SPEECH: Where Do You Stand?

One of the aftermath issues following the Success Academy shootings in Cleveland is a drill just about every newsroom and journalist goes through -- or should go through.

WKYC's Eric Mansfield blogged about the student who reaped rewards from the checkbook journalists paying for his homemade video shot inside the classroom while a 14-year old fellow student shot outside the classroom, wounding four before taking his own life. A national program shelled out two grand without blinking, Eric reports, and local news shops followed suit (bidding remained in the hundreds) once word got out. WKYC did not join the tragedy auction but did air the video when NBC made it available to network affiliates.

Was it wrong for the student, and the student's mother, do quickly jump on the profit wagon with the blood of his fellow students and teachers still fresh on the hallway floors?

It is not unusual for networks, newspapers or magazines to pay for content; after all, those out-of-town but appearing in-studio guests on programs such as CNN's Larry King and Glenn Beck, or MSNBC's Hard Ball, NBC's Today Show, ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's Morning Show, Fox & Friends -- most of the "real people", non-professional guests don't pay their own way to fly to New York, Washington, or Atlanta and then pop for a night's hotel stay for the pure joy of being on TV. In-studio means someone foots the bill for travel, and then some.

There's a fine line in television between the entertainment division programs and the news division programs; viewers usually can't tell the difference between the hard-driving CNN Showbiz Today or Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood, even as they air on the "news" channel or immediately following a news program. We broadcasters do a pretty good job of making that line fuzzy, and it isn't a stretch to note the public has better things to do with their time than grow sophisticated to easily recognize the difference.

Phil Trexler of the Akron Beacon Journal noted on Friday's NewsNight Akron program it is common practice for the paper to pay "stringer fees", usually a nominal amount. We practice the same policy with stringers and freelancers both in broadcast on WAKR and online on AkronNewsNow with some sports reporters, mostly Jeff Brewer who contributes coverage from pro teams as well as features on high school sports. Jeff is also a blogger on Suburban League athletics).

The newspaper/magazine equivalent to the networks is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for that "shot" of Brittney dropping her child on the sidewalk coming out of Starbucks, or Lindsay stumbling out of a nightclub after rehab. Those photos reap huge rewards just as the video does because the public wants to see those images, despite protests of disgust. In the business, it's the "what's under the sheet?" question: driving past a car wreck, everyone looks to see even though they know it won't be pretty. It isn't one of our finest traits, but it is what it is.

Who's wrong -- the video shooter or the TV/radio/newspaper/website paying for the media?

I find it hard to condemn the young man who shot the Success Academy video or his mother; they had a product in demand and customers willing to pay for it. The responsibility on what we as journalists air, post or publish isn't with the "user generated users" or freelancers providing the content, it is ours as traditional media (newspapers, magazine, radio, TV) or "new" media (Internet) since we weild the editorial decision on what content we believe our respective audiences want.

That decision is complicated and in today's fragmented media world not just one with journalism ethics attached; the differences in acceptance by the wider media audience measured in ratings points, circulation or unique visitor page views places huge economic considerations on those decisions. Also consider the First Amendment provides for very little in the form of regulation (yelling "fire" in crowded theaters, personal health privacy and espionage secrets excepted) for a very good reason: the Founding Fathers opted to put the power in the hands of the people, and not someone deciding for us what we would see and hear.

The market reality is: if viewers, readers and listeners have such widespread revulsion and are repulsed by these images and sounds those airing, publishing or posting the material won't make a living. When most viewers, readers and listeners demand and expect this material those responsible for the editorial decisions must and will weigh the economic consequences along with their best journalistic judgment, citizen or professional.

In our version of democracy, freedom of speech isn't bound by the limits of good taste or family-appropriate values. That decision is left to us, as it should be: I'd rather have a society openly debating excess rather than authority silencing speech.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Week's End Thoughts & Tribe Stuff

This has been a rough week for the news business, leading off with the horror of the Success Academy shootings in Cleveland Wednesday. It sparked the usual gab-fest shows opinions on whether gun control would have stopped this; are our schools safe?; why weren't warning signs heeded; what led this troubled 14-year old to attack others and then take his own life.

I'm not sure there are any answers to these questions.

From a media coverage perspective we heard about this right after the first shots, thanks in large measure to WKYC's proximity right across the street from Success Academy. Frank Macek has very informative posts in his Director's Cut blog from Channel 3 on their coverage. The other Cleveland stations -- WEWS, WJW and WOIO -- also had strong coverage of this breaking news, coming at the same time a major train derailment forced a thousand people from their homes near Painesville.

One of the common threads of coverage has been the use of the 9-1-1 calls from parents relaying to police information they were getting from their children and others inside Success Academy. There is a bill in the Ohio General Assembly that seeks to restrict broadcast or web airing of 9-1-1 audio, on the grounds it discourages calls by people afraid of retribution after being tagged "snitches". One thing I took away from the use of the 9-1-1 calls and the job Cleveland dispatchers did in handling the distraught parents was the system worked, and the folks on the other side of the phone stepped up to remain calm and still try and get information to pass along which might be helpful to S.W.A.T and other emergency responders on the scene.

I've got to think some of the lessons from Columbine are still fresh, including the razor's edge situations posed for police who often don't know if someone running from the scene is victim or perp. Having the information relayed by eyewitnesses inside may not always be the most reliable (eyewitness testimony is notoriously all over the board) but it does help those on the front line try and paint a more complete picture of what happens behind the closed doors and windows of a hostage situation. Knowing the 9-1-1 system works on this level should be seen as a positive, and not an objection. Our tax dollars pay for it and most importantly it is public record -- and public understanding and support of 9-1-1 is critical to helping the system work.

On a couple of totally goofy notes:

The Indians begin their best-of-seven series with the Boston Red Sox Friday night at fabled Fenway Park. My good pal Bob Salsberg of the Associated Press in Boston enjoyed watching the Tribe dump the Yankees; of course it's not because he's a big Indians fan but more to the point it was us beating New York, and for folks in Red Sox Nation that pretty much makes the Indians fans -- until this weekend.

Some funny photos are coming out of the NY series; for example, this up-close version of Insectus Tribefanus. We owe a tremendous debt to this little fellow, captured by AkronNewsNow web designer Andrew Seese, for the Game Two 11-inning win over the Bronx Bombers. If only we could be assured warmer October nights for when the BoSox visit but alas, the forecast will be a fairly chilly Monday and Tuesday at Carnegie and Ontario so it's unlikely we'll see our little buddies lend a hand against Manny and company.

My cousin Gene forwarded this gem. It had to be one of the most painful things he's ever attached, ever.

He's a big Yankees fan and was, I'm sure, planning to find some creative way of rubbing a New York series win in my face. Without a single comment from me he forwarded this photo that kind of says it all. Please feel free to forward to your friends and family who wear pinstripes.

Finally Mark Biviano earns my thanks and gratitude for forwarding this image that bears the ultimate lesson of how money can't buy happiness.

The greatest quote coming out of the ALDS series comes from Mark Shapiro, who noted how much he enjoyed the loudest applause he savors most was the devastating silence from Yankee Stadium Tuesday evening. I'm only sorry it didn't come on the last game ever at the House that Ruth Built (that's next year) but it was great fun seeing all those empty seats as the overconfident New York fans slunk back into their subway holes to escape reality underground.

Friday, October 5, 2007

LeBron, Finley and Ted's Energy

Can TV (local and national) give the LeBron's a Yankee fan thing a rest? He's a Yankee fan. He sticks by his team. It's a game. If C.C. Sabathia doesn't care why should the rest of us? Make the point and move on...

That said, it was interesting LBJ turned the cap around and was gone by the time the Tribe made it 10-3. A fan's a fan but watching your favorites get slammed is no fun -- Cleveland fans know that feeling all too well...

Why the media (including us) really love sports playoffs involving home teams: we get to fill time and space with interviews with fans howling how much they love their Indians/Cavaliers/Browns, etc. It sure beats those man-on-the street interviews at crime scenes, high school sexual assault scenes, carjackings and armed robberies. Even the most hard-boiled street reporters get fed up at some point...

All said, it was still very satisfying to wake up Friday morning and see the score was the same as when the game ended. As an Indians fan I never take these things for granted...

Dollar General has removed Halloween products containing lead. Not Halloween candy but plastic buckets and monster tumblers kids could drink out of. It's easy to turn this into a made-in-China issue, especially since everything seasonal these days seems to come from China. Is the world's new strongest economy getting to the point yet where they'll keep the lead in the pencils instead?

Joe Finley still won't give up even though he admits there's no chance in the Akron Mayor's primary of making up that thousand-vote loss. Part of me agrees with MSM blogging buddy Eric Mansfield that it's admirable Joe sticks by his guns, but the bigger part thinks Joe should realize the point's been made...and now it's time to close the chapter. We know he's going to fight another day, show the kind of sportsmanship we try to teach kids to exhibit after the game is over. Why can't the phrase "MoveOn" mean what it says?

Jody Miller and I have a date Monday for taping a walk about the University of Akron to profile some of the remarkable changes in the Landscape for Learning. The transformation of the Akron campus is amazing and no, we haven't forgotten we paid for it. We'll do the proper gushing, I'm sure, but it reminds me how goofy I think this UA-Cleveland State merge talk is, especially when CSU exists just fine with Tri-C's downtown, east and west campus operations easily within their footprint. Want to save money? How about folding administration of CSU and Tri-C into one office?

I had the chance to listen to Governor Strickland's stump speech (note link includes audio) pushing his energy policy Thursday while attending the Ohio Association of Broadcasters convention. I've said before that Strickland's detractors (both public and private) really underestimate this guy. He's been in office for 10 months, had only one no vote on his budget, and the only major "scandals" he's had to deal with came in a missing hard drive (poor middle management decision making, not Strickland's policies) and the embarrassing departure of Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman's wife from her cushy state job (well, that one hits home). Overall his easy-going country manner and speaking style plays well with folks and his management style so far paints Ohio as a pro-business tax-sensitive place for investment. And yes, Ted's still a Democrat.

If Ohio Dems were smart they'd remember having leadership that knows how to talk and act from both sides of the aisle wins votes statewide. It sure beats having Kucinich as the lone face of Ohio Democrat politics...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Frankly, I'm Ashamed

This weekend should have been fairly routine. Diane and I headed up to see her mother in Michigan, recovering from some pretty serious health issues. The newsroom seemed in good hands with plans to cover the Road Runner Marathon, Akron's farewell to Rex Humbard, the Indians on a playoff roll and the Browns looking to beat the Ravens. What's to go wrong?


Monday afternoon I got an e-mail and phone message from Laurie Cramer at the Prosecutor's Office, but because of tasks on my schedule for today didn't get a chance to see until late in the day she was alerting me to our story coverage last week where we dropped the ball.

Some of you have been following the coverage of the Tayse trial, the story of the Pennsylvania man charged with abducting and assaulting a Pittsburgh-area mother and her daughter before releasing them here in Ohio. He was found guilty. They were hoping for justice in Summit County, where Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh personally handled presenting the state's case of crimes that crossed state lines.

As you'll see in our AkronNewsNow story, edited earlier this afternoon, the names of the victims of this horrible crime were included in our original coverage. Not only did we make this mistake on Thursday of last week when the trial first went to the jury, but we also repeated the error on Friday. There is no excuse.

We've since removed the names because as a matter of policy we don't normally report the ID of victims of sex crimes, especially when it involves children. In fact, the only time I remember identifying the victims of sexual assault locally was the Denny Ross rape case a few years ago, and that was only because the victim insisted upon it. My personal and professional view is that we should never report the name of the victim unless it is by prior consent or, as in the Duke lacrosse allegations case, the charges are found to be without merit by clear and convincing evidence and the accuser becomes the accused. We've had such discussions on numerous occasions in the newsroom, usually in the coverage of high-profile cases but also in coverage of other, less headline-grabbing accounts.

We failed in our coverage of the Tayse trial, and worse we failed to correct our actions in a timely and professional manner when it was brought to our attention. When the Prosecutor's office first called to alert us the victims found their names in our coverage, we should have acted immediately to correct our story and apologize; instead, we left the issue in voicemail for another day.

I contacted Laurie and apologized for our original coverage; I apologized for our failure to appropriately edit the coverage on multiple levels; and I apologized for the lack of a response deserved by not only the Prosecutor but also the victims in this crime. They were victims of our actions and our inaction, and there is no excuse. We can apologize, but that will not repair the damage.

It isn't against the law to identify victims of crime, nor do I think it should be. Many times reporting the news is an ugly business, but making these decisions should be a constant subject of debate in every newsroom. News departments will fashion their own policies according to their own ethics and standards, and news consumers will make the ultimate judgment on whether those organizations earned their trust and respect.

We all work hard toward that goal, but there are times when we don't work hard enough. The problem isn't when we worry about what we do but when we don't worry about why; in this case we didn't protect a family in Pennsylvania who deserved better, we didn't serve our audience who should expect higher standards and we weren't true to our own sense of personal values that should drive us to question why, especially when that question is turned to ourselves.

We apologize on all counts.