OUR VIEWS: Local celebrities don't get free pass

Jul 3, 2012

At times, these people of prestige break the law. After all, they're only human.

When this happens, a lot of people wonder whether they'll get special treatment. Will the newspaper bury the news? Will a lawyer get the case dismissed?

While money and prestige go a long way in this world, these things do not always mean that they are able to get a free pass.

Due to their higher status in the community, they have a higher pillar from which to fall. Most news articles about them up until the incidents — we venture to guess — discuss their rise to greatness, their accomplishments, how many people they employ or their charitable deeds. Those are worthwhile stories.

But for the same reason newspapers reported on these folks — for instance, former Shape Corp. President Tom DeVoursney or the former high school star Robbie Aurich — before their arrests or criminal charges, we must report on their troubles.

The newspaper didn't make DeVoursney get into a sports car and crash it, nor did the newspaper encourage Aurich to fight with officers while allegedly resisting arrest at a Minnesota bar.

But to ignore these incidents would be a bad choice. To bury them in the newspaper would be an equally poor choice.

Residents gossip, and if a news organization chose to not prominently report on the incident, such a decision clearly would lead to a lack of trust in the news authority. Newspapers of integrity cannot compromise their coverage to bow down to those in power, or those with money.

Some people feel news sources such as ours shouldn’t be reporting on incidents involving prominent citizens to the extent that we do. Well, these law-breakers definitely don’t deserve protection. Surely they’re aware that due to their public position any alleged wrongdoing will be under the scrutiny of the public eye.

A newspaper’s duty is to honestly enlighten the public. Many residents rely on the local newspaper to provide them with factual, unbiased information regarding events that influence their community.

For those that don’t feel the newspaper should fully cover stories regarding local celebrities, what’s the alternative? Leave the public to form their own opinions based on local gossip? Consider the telephone game, where the original message is rarely what comes out on the other side after the message is relayed from person to person. Is that how news should be delivered? Would that be better? No.

The public wants and needs a trustworthy source to obtain their news. That’s exactly what the newspaper strives to provide.

Be upset with the individuals who made poor decisions, not with your local newspaper for reporting on them.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.
 

Comments

polarize

While it is true that the newspaper should report on factual events (preferably with at least two unbiased sources), your "Our Views" section calls that integrity into question. Legitimate facts are the only credible information the public should use to form opinion rather than being tainted by media staff personal beliefs. Citizens should be free independent thinkers.....not led around like sheep being told what to think. I mean no disrespect but understand that the way you report can needlessly destroy lives that are just as deserving whether rich, poor, famous, or even homeless. Let's cut each other a little slack for the benefit of the community where all of us live with our family and yours. What does it benefit anyone if you create headlines for one day but destroy a life forever? Factual is appropriate but facts are not necessarily always factual. We are all human. Thanks for allowing me to comment.

MC

I agree with the premiss of this story, what I do not agree with is the timing. One of these incidents is 2 years old, and the other 1 year old. What is the point of bringing this up now? I feel both parties have been through enough and have paid their dues and moved on. Is it fair to them to have to read this over a holidya week? Like I said I agree with the premiss of this article but the timing of it could not have been more poor. I don't think this makes you a better paper, I feel it makes you worse for having to drum up the past to write a "current" story. Bush league!

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