Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Sometimes, more sensitivity is needed

 


By DAVID MARTIN

Editor

Normally in this space, readers find an unsigned editorial detailing the newspaper’s position on some issue going on that affects Green River’s residents in some way.

This week, we’re changing things up to address an important concern that’s come up in the last week. Last week, we published a story following up on a court case involving a man who sexually abused a girl. The man appeared at a probation revocation and through that, the story then recapped the events that led up to his conviction and used the victim’s initials and age within that recap.

The story was compiled through court documents and everything found within the story can be seen within those court documents. The girl’s name was redacted to her initials in those documents, as was seen in our news stories regarding the incident. We published the story and a day later, I received a call from the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office regarding the article and citing concerns regarding how the article was reported and the potential for revictimizing the victim through the inclusion of the girl’s initials.

This wasn’t the first time the issue came up. A few months ago Sweetwater County Attorney Brett Johnson and I met and discussed similar concerns. A number of people have called the county attorney’s office complaining about the inclusion of victim’s names in news reports of crimes and court proceedings. After our chat, I followed up with a few editors and publishers I know throughout the state and wasn’t told I was doing anything wrong or unethical. So I left it at that.

Second thoughts began to nag at me after talking with the attorney from the county attorney’s office last week. I don’t agree with the idea of Green River being a small town where everyone knows everyone; there’s nearly 13,000 people living here. However, the Green River Star, as I see it at least, shouldn’t behave the same way national news outlets often do.

In this case, I do think we should have used more sensitivity in using the girl’s initials in the report and in the future, we’ll exercise that sensitivity in the articles we produce. However, I also believe court coverage is important because it highlights the problems we face as a community.

The victims of serious crimes shouldn’t be made to relive the events they underwent and we’ll work to minimize that in our coverage, but we will continue to cover the city’s courts as we have always done.

 

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