North Carolina Newspaper With No Backbone Apologizes For Its Request For Public Records

from the incredible dept

It's no secret that the latest decision by many newspapers to publish records of gun-permit holders after obtaining them via Freedom of Information Act requests is somewhat controversial. Some people are against the practice and think that such information should not be public. Wherever you come down on that side of the debate, however, hopefully you can recognize that since (in most places) the information is officially a public record, no publication or news organization should ever have to apologize for merely requesting the information. And yet, as pointed out by Jim Romenesko, The Cherokee Scout in Murphy N.C., posted an astoundingly groveling apology to its readers last week for the sin of daring to request public records:

NOTE TO READERS

The Cherokee Scout made a tremendous error in judgment this week, and thanks to our readers we learned a tough lesson.

As publisher of your local newspaper, I want to apologize to everyone we unintentionally upset with our public records request for a list of those who have or have applied for a concealed carry permit. We had no idea the the reaction it would cause.

Sheriff Keith Lovin had the best interests of the people of Cherokee County at heart when he denied our request. The Scout would like to offer an apology to him as well.

To that end, Editor Robert Horne spoke with Lovin on Friday morning to tell him we were withdrawing our public records request. He asked for a written copy of request, and Horne dropped it off at his office that morning.

While Horne was on the phone with the sheriff, he also thanked him and his staff for their quick response when some people who saw Facebook posts started making personal threats against him. Horne also requested a sit-down meeting in the near future to iron out any issues between the Scout and the sheriff's office, which Lovin graciously accepted.

I realize many people are upset with Horne, myself and the Scout and we can understand that. We never meant to offend the wonderful people of this fine community nor hurt the reputation of this newspaper. We do a lot of positive work that helps make Cherokee County an even better place to live, and I hope more good work will repair our reputation with readers.

Many of you have asked where Horne is from. He is from a small town in south Georgia — Cairo, Ga., to be exact. It is a rural area much like Murphy, and his roots are helping him better understand this community. [He has been editor of the paper since 2005.]

As for myself, I attended Murphy High School. I was married and baptized here, and three of my children are proud Bulldogs. This county has been important to me for a long time.

I know where this community is coming from, and I hope we can regain your trust. I know it may take a while, but we're going to try. Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Publisher David Brown

Newspaper publishers are supposed to stand up for their right to ask for public information, not grovel about how it was a mistake to ask for it in the first place. People might not like it, but newspapers aren't supposed to only report on the stories that people like. If that's the case, they're no longer a newspaper, they're a marketing brochure.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2013 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Cowardice?

    Quote:
    It doesn't matter if it's more so. It doesn't have to be a main factor to be a factor.

    Than you have no problems with the concept of people that are dangerous to others being named in public do you?
    Like say other criminals and pedophiles, gun owners also pose a risk to the security of others, how much of it doesn't really matter as you so eloquently put it "it doesn't have to be a main factor to be a factor".

    Quote:
    Except the average article is usually either newsworthy ("Congressman caught with cash in his freezer!" tells you he has cash and a freezer, but this is newsworthy) or done with consent (an article like "Recent uptick in flat screen TV purchases" may involve an interview where someone who bought one is named, but that person agreed to the interview.) This is neither.


    a) The newspaper did it with consent, the government was the one that granted that consent, after it collected all that data from you, is not their problem they followed all the rules and protocols in place, is not the newspaper problem if that piece of information should or should not be private, it is the job of the people who collect and record those to decide what to do with it. The newspaper could have used their own judgement but they are not required to do so. You have no rights you given up on them the instant you let others collect your data and didn't complain then, why are you complaining now?

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