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Poor News Reporting Abounds

I never do this but tonight’s newscast sent me through the roof.  I fired off the following message and sent it to the station management.  I don’t have a dog in the fight where this news story is concerned but I do have concerns with the looseness we accept in news reporting related to scandals, especially involving school teachers.  So here’s my response:

Interesting newscast this evening…

A dad in a neighboring town says a high school teacher sent inappropriate text messages to his daughter.  This may or may not be true.   We don’t know because we’ve not seen any evidence.  We only know that there is an investigation underway, which there should be.  The school won’t comment because to comment publicly on a personnel matter is against the law at this point.

I know you’d probably think there’s more to this story but that’s it…. No facts (other than there is an investigation), just a parent’s statement reported as news during primetime.

A real news report might have stated that there have been allegations but it hasn’t been determined if they are founded since there is an investigation underway.  No one would be named since it’s just one dad’s statement with no other evidence offered.

A real news report might list the proper steps expected of the school district facing these types of allegations and then assure the public that they would give a future report updating what actions were taken by the district.

If these allegations are true, an ethics violation would be submitted to the Arkansas Department of Education Ethics Board.  The teacher would appear before the board for a hearing.  If evidence is determined to be creditable, the resulting punishments could extend to fines and revoking the teacher’s license.   Law enforcement would determine if criminal charges should be filed.

Now that’s a news story and it only takes a minute or two to share real information that holds educators accountable while protecting against character assassination in the event that the teacher is innocent or is the victim of a terrible hoax.

My problem with this television station is that we skipped a lot of steps that you would expect a professional news gathering organization to take.   We jumped right to the dad’s side of the story and left it there.  The station comes off looking like tabloid news.

I certainly hope the teacher is guilty of sending these text messages because, if he is not, then we’ve witnessed a terrible injustice on this man.  If I were a lawyer, I would be contacting this teacher in hopes that he’s innocent so I could file a slander lawsuit.  If he is guilty of this then proper due process should be taken to correct the situation and a creditable news organization would be expected to follow up and see that proper steps are taken.

I like this TV station (especially the weather reporting) and want to keep watching but I don’t appreciate thin news reporting, especially when we play fast and loose with the reputations of local citizens.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t know anyone involved in this situation.  I just want accurate news.

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