PONDERINGS: 'Don't put me in the paper!'
By Randy Ponder
Oct 21, 2013, 11:41
Randy Ponder, Echo Publisher
Why did you put my name in the paper? That's a question we here at the Sea Coast Echo hear several times every week.
It usually has something to do with that person's appearance in the arrest report published each Wednesday or in a story pertaining to a drug bust or some other such crime.
Every single name on the Hancock County Sheriff's Department's arrest docket is printed. No name is left off. It does not matter who that person is or to whom that person might be related, if your name is on the docket, it will be in the paper. That goes for all newspaper employees and their families. Unfortunately, some former Echo employees have been on that list.
So why does the Echo have the audacity to actually print those names in the paper? Sure, most folks understand this information is a matter of public record. Anyone has the power to walk into the sheriff's office and look at the arrest docket. Or you may check online to see who might be currently in the county jail. You could also go to the court house and see who has filed for a divorce, or who is being sued or is in foreclosure, etc.
Usually a name in the arrest report does not warrant any additional coverage. Most of these charges are for relative minor offenses. But not all. Some are very serious crimes, including felonies such as murder, rape, armed robbery, etc. And sometimes they involve people who have thrust themselves into the public eye.
Public figures include elected officials, business leaders and those in power and authority or anyone whose name and photo have been routinely seen in the media or is well known by a large percent of the local population.
Names that fall into these categories require a full explanation and more information, a separate article.
Another reason for publishing a story is to put an end to gossip and innuendoes. We live in a small town and any time something good or bad happens, people start talking. There are no secrets. Often the information published in the newspaper will put an end to outlandish half-truths or completely erroneous information being passed around as fact.
So your name appeared in the arrest report published in the Echo, when you call our office all bent out of shape, cursing and threatening, remember this: We did not put your name on that list, you did. Get up off the couch, walk into the bathroom and be upset at the person looking back at you from the mirror.