2/5/2012 6:00:00 AM
Blocking the information highway

Butch Meriwether
Butch's Brew

I'm one of those guys who believes the Daily Miner reporters do a masterful job with the resources they have available to them and what is supplied to them on the great informational plate.

What I can't honestly comprehend is how certain bloggers are so quick to chastise a reporter for not having all of the facts and information in a particular story when it is first published. Do the bloggers think that every Tom, Dick and Harry who resides on the street where a burglary occurred will immediately call the reporter to provide complete details of the incident? Do they so honestly believe police officers responding to the burglary in progress are going to stop their investigation to call the various reporters and tell them what had just occurred? I'll answer those questions with a BIG NO!

It sometimes takes a few days, or even weeks in some cases, to gather all of the pertinent information about an incident or event.

And in some cases, the information may never be provided by a particular agency. A case in point is when U.S. Border Patrol agents chased a vehicle through Golden Valley last year and the vehicle being pursued crashed. Many of the occupants were transported to hospital in critical condition.

KDM reporter Erin Taylor attempted to gather information for a follow-up story, but "hit a brick wall" when she contacted the authorities for more information.

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office was tasked with completing the investigation of the accident itself and was very helpful to her. The MCSO provided Ms. Taylor with the information they had in regard to the accident, but then the informational snag occurred. It was learned that when MCSO deputies attempted to interview the U.S. Border Patrol agents involved in the chase, the union representing the agents had advised them to "lawyer up" and not to cooperate with or talk with the MCSO deputies conducting the accident investigation.

As of this date, the true reason, justification and the circumstances surrounding the chase of a vehicle on a dirt road north of Highway 68 has never been revealed by the U.S. Border Patrol, and it probably won't unless one of the occupants in the crashed vehicle sues the agents involved and our government.

As the reporter's search for information about a particular incident trudges forward, they sometimes have to speak to the "powers to be" or their respective public information officers (PIO). And those of us, who are currently in or have previously been in the reporting business, know the information provided to them can trickle in like a mountain spring barely bubbling to the surface.

Is it the PIO's fault for damming up the informational highway or is it because the PIO also has a problem with assimilating information from departments and officials? As good reporters, they sometimes do an end run and have to rely on information supplied to them by their confidential sources and/or informants they have developed over a period of time. Most of that information provided by a source has to be doubled checked though other sources to ensure accuracy so there is no liability issues.

It all takes time to gather all of the pertinent information, and if the article was about one of your family members or you, I think you would want the reporter to take his or her time to gather all the facts prior to writing a story about the event or incident that could contain misinformation.

I think the various bloggers' opinions about our local reporters would dramatically change if they had to "walk a mile in the shoes" of those they are so quick to criticize. What the bloggers should do is decide a subject they want to tackle, do their homework and research, and then write the story. Submit it to one of the local print media outlets in hopes the editor decides to publish it. Don't expect to be paid because with most small newspapers, they do not pay independent contributors for their submissions.

The only thing you will get for your article is realizing the editor thought it was good enough to be published in the newspaper.

Then we all can analyze the person's story with a fine-toothed comb and also poke holes in their piece as they normally do to the professional reporters' articles.

So next time you read an article in the newspaper or on a website, think twice before immediately criticizing the reporter because you believe all of the information isn't contained in the story.

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