Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Record Searchlight: A Bastion of Imperfect Reporting

Have you ever read an article in a newspaper (or in this case, article after article) and thought that the reporting staff at the paper just doesn't get it?

That's how I feel every single time I read the Record Searchlight.

They did run an article about the case involving my family today. And I could tell from the headline that it wasn't going to be good. After all, they spent the better part of seven years demonizing my family member. They slammed him because he wouldn't talk to them. It never seemed to enter the main reporter involved with coverage's head that we couldn't say anything because of the legal protections of the students involved.

You see, if you're a teacher and a student says something horrible about you, their rights are still protected. You can't just tell the whole world what really happened, no matter how much you'd like to. You can't bring the kids six inch disciplinary tome out and lay it on a podium for everyone to see.

The Record Searchlight began by saying that the federal jury rejected the courts claim. Then they said that the investigation had found most of the charges to be false. They failed to mention that the charge that was found to be true by the investigator (seven years ago) was that "he may have raised his voice to unruly students." After all saying that "some of the claims" were found to be true leaves so much more room for the imagination to run wild.

Then they repeated the claims and said that some people blamed the paper for printing the accusations. And this is what the Record Searchlight doesn't understand. So I'll lay it out for them:

It's not that you printed the accusations. It's that you did zero research, other than printing the verbatim word of a bunch of lying drug addicts, into what actually happened. You did no sort of background research whatsoever. If you had, you might have realized sometime in the last seven years what it took the federal jury ninety minutes to decide when looking at the same facts you easily could have had access to if you'd done a tiny bit of leg work. I know it's easy to sit around in an air conditioned office and listen to someone rant on the phone and type up what they say, but as a reporter you're actually supposed to uncover the truth (or at least give it a good try). And you cannot honestly say that you tried.

Back to the reason for my annoyance. Today's article: after the stellar Record Searchlight reporter repeats the claims, they took it upon themselves to print the area that we moved to when we left the town I grew up in to be near family and get away from the toxic mess that the Record Searchlight created by spreading their ugly lies day after day. They had literally formed their own little witch hunt and they spent seven years getting people riled up over false claims that they were enthusiastic to print.

Then in a couple sentences they say that the jury didn't believe it and tell people where we now live...

I'm not surprised. I didn't expect the Record Searchlight to suddenly realize that they had engaged (and are still engaging) in highly unethical reporting over the past seven years. I guess that would be asking to much.

I can't help but wonder who their next victim will be in their search for ratings. I'd be highly nervous if I were a public official in an area where Searchlight sales were low. That's how things started in this case...


  1. I am sorry that your family has had to endure this. It is not right what that 'news'paper has written. And I say 'news' very lightly. It seems evident that they do not really report news but more hearsay and accusations. News should be researched and any good news writer would know that, so that they may not be held liable.

    This kind of incident happens more and more often lately, where any kinds of gossip, without hard evidence, is reported just to get better ratings.

    Again, I am very sorry for you and your famiily for having to deal with this. Good for you for standing up for your family member against the lies.

  2. I'm sorry that your family was put through all of this. It must have been so hard, and I imagine you all are feeling relieved now.
    However, as someone who has enjoyed reading your blog for many months, after corresponding at CAF, I'd like to mention something out of concern for what you have written here.
    With the power of Google, absolutely anyone can discover for themselves the names of all involved parties, the school district, and your hometown and the current whereabouts of your family, all because you included the name of the local paper in your post. I do not want you to get into trouble for defamation of character, or have repercussions in your family. You might want to consider removing the name of the paper, to protect the innocent and to guard against further lawsuits.
    Please take what I say in the manner I intend, in charity and out of concern for you and your family. God bless you and good luck with your cross-country trip. I am glad your husband made it safely to Florida.
    Randi (mommamaree @ CAF)

  3. I wanted to post a comment that Mr Morris was one of the best teachers I have had and it is horrible what one child who was troubled could cause all this havoc. It is comingly known in the working world that often when an underperforming/troublemaking employee is going to be disciplined or fired that they claim harrasment or stress relayed disability to prolong their work and try and game money out of the employer. This is what this gals family did. The Record Searchlight should have known this and at least checked into it.

  4. Hi Guys-

    Thank you for your kind words.

    And thank you for your concern Randi-

    I'm not too worried about people online finding us through the blog. I did realize that before I posted this.

    Because their lies are so clearly documented I'm not too worried about lawsuits. I'm fairly certain that we have a very strong case for libel and slander against the newspaper if it came to that, because they're reporting was so shoddy and their stories so sensational (and unverified).

    The thing is that what I've written here is true, and I'm beyond tired being quiet about. I've strongly considered posting the names of the plaintiffs here. And I'm not bothered by people finding out who the people were who did these very evil things. Or about them finding out that someone is finally telling the truth about their lies.

    I pray that someday they'll understand the magnitude of what they did out of greed and repent.

    In the meantime, I don't mind if the paper or the plaintiffs worry that maybe, just maybe, they'll end up on the wrongside of a lawsuit sometime soon. They certainly did enough to warrant it.

  5. And I was actually glad to see that this is on the first page of google hits for the paper. I do really want people to know what they've done and how poor their practices are.

  6. My goodness. I can't even begin to imagine how hard this situation must have been on your family member and the the whole family. I am sorry you all have had to gone through this. Hopefully now that the lawsuit is over the family can put it behind them and move forward.



I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!