So a guy with whom much of the community is familiar was arrested last month and there’s been some push back on how we, and I, handled the story.
It seems as though some, and by no means all, people would have been happy if the story was written like this:
“A person was arrested on March 20. We can’t tell you anything or anyone he is associated with because that will reflect poorly on those things or people. We can’t tell you what business he is associated with because that will make that business look bad. In fact, we’re not even going to tell you his (or her) name because a lot of people like him (or her) and people will start pulling their advertisements or canceling their subscriptions. And don’t even ask us what he (or she) allegedly did. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.”
I am, of course, referring to the arrest of local car dealer Marty McDivitt. The story appeared on the front page of this paper last week and was on our website the week before that.
The fictitous story above is obviously an exaggeration, but I’m trying to make a point.
One of the main gripes I’ve heard is that I mentioned in the story that McDivitt is a prominent booster of the Covington High School football team.
I actually debated with myself whether or not to mention that as I was writing the story because I knew some people would not like it.
But, in the end, I felt like I had to for one and only one reason: When somebody does something newsworthy, good or bad, it’s just common sense to paint as much of a picture of that person as you can.
McDivitt helped pay for the very nice scoreboard on the football field and he has supported the program for many years. It’s something for which he is well-known in a town that takes its high school football very seriously.
In fact, I think it would have been a disservice to McDivitt, his family and his friends not to mention something positive about a man who has fallen on some difficult times.
Whenever I write a story about a well-known local person who has been arrested, and I’ve written a lot of them over the past two decades, it’s never personal. It’s just part of the job and it’s not always pleasant. There’s no doubt some people I’ve been friendly with over the years will be looking at me cross-eyed for a while and that just goes with the territory.
My intention was certainly not to disparage the Covington High football team or anyone else. I’ve covered five of their state title games and I was rooting for them at every one of them.
I was simply trying to tell what was noteworthy about a man who was involved in something newsworthy.
Nothing more, nothing less.