I recently wrote a sad story about drug use and child abuse, but there was a small ray of light; the police and the Department of Children’s Services had intervened in the situation.
After writing that article, I was alleged to have placed the DCS worker in danger, by using her name. When writing articles about crime, my information comes from police reports, which are public documents and therefore public domain. This means that anyone can access these records.
I did not write anything that was secret information.
That accusation bothered me a great deal.
It is not my job to place anyone in danger. But the Press and I did nothing wrong. I used information from a public record that is available to anyone. Furthermore it is my job to write articles about what is occurring in our community. Unfortunately that entails the good and the bad. I write articles about drug use, child neglect, theft and many other crimes.
But I also write about good things in our community. When awards are given, fundraisers are held or community events happen, I get to write about those wonderful events.
But all of these articles have at least one thing in common; the names of officials are used. The public has a right to know that the articles that I pen are credible, not heresy or just my opinion on an issue. That is why names have to be used. Attribution is the bedrock of credible journalism.
That being said, I am concerned about the possible dangers that the police, social workers and other public officials face in their everyday jobs. But we all have a job to do, including me.
My job just happens to be writing about other people doing their jobs.
So keep up the good work or the bad. Regardless, I will write about it for the public to read because that is my job.