Please leave out prejudicial comments

July 7, 2013

My family has been visiting, living in and volunteering our time to the Cape region for over 20 years. We have been reading the Cape Gazette for a majority of that time and have been loyal subscribers for several years. We have some serious concerns with the way certain stories are covered, more specifically, police and fire news stories.

The first concern is when there is an incident involving a civilian (John Q. Public) and the police agency or fire department disseminates to the media their version of an incident, it appears the Cape Gazette is quick to spin the story vilifying the civilian whether they are the accused or victim.

The information contained in these stories is based on assumption, inference and speculation, which means the allegations lack minimal indicia.

Sometimes, the information is plain erroneous.

Media sensationalism is legal but libel, slander and defamation are not. Your paper then follows up these stories in subsequent editions that continue the onslaught of character and reputation assassination.

Your staff continually includes any or all of the following information concerning a civilian involved in an incident in no particular order:

Criminal charges and violations; bail or bond amount; incarceration status and location; personal address, criminal history; medical history; physical condition; mental condition; prescribed medications; blood alcohol and drug content; social media information; employment information; mug shot photo; driver's license photo; driving record; vehicle year, make and model; photo of civilian at the incident; photo of the incident or location; civilian's relationship to others.

The second concern is when a police officer, politician or any public official is involved in an incident; the published story lacks a large amount of the previously mentioned information. The last comment in these stories is usually, “there is no further information available due to an ongoing investigation.” In addition, these stories are usually only published in one edition and never followed up in subsequent editions. This leads your readers to believe the incident was not serious nor were any criminal charges filed.

For example, the incident involving a Delaware State Trooper, Trooper Rosner, striking a civilian pedestrian, Brian McDermott, who was walking just north of Dewey Beach. The story was not printed on the Cape Gazette front page in large bold print. It was buried on the bottom of an inside page in small font and contained minimal information. There was no follow up story in a subsequent edition to inform your readers of updates on the investigation or Mr. McDermott's condition.

Another example and most recently is the incident on Route 1 in the same area of Dewey Beach where Trooper Rosner struck Mr. McDermott. Tragically, the pedestrian lost his life in the incident. Why was it reported once and never a follow up as to charges, BAC or otherwise? Makes one wonder why the accident with the state trooper and the one with the lawyer are different than anyone else! It seems that it is the Delaware way.

Please remember there are certain subjects that are more likely than not to have a material prejudicial effect on a proceeding, particularly a criminal matter, or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration. These subjects relate to the character, credibility, reputation or criminal record of a party, suspect in a criminal investigation or witness, or the identity of a witness.

We can only conclude by these Cape Gazette articles and many others that your staff, or an individual at a state agency responsible for disseminating information, is extremely biased and slanted toward civilians involved in incidents.

If your staff is truly “fully accountable to thousands of readers and committed to publishing a fair and interesting newspaper,” please leave the prejudicial comments out of these stories and let the readers form their own opinion or report all the same way!

Ann Wallace
Newark and Rehoboth Beach

  • A letter to the editor expresses a reader's opinion and, as such, is not reflective of the editorial opinions of this newspaper.

    To submit a letter to the editor for publishing, send an email to Letters must be signed and include a telephone number for verification. Please keep letters to 650 words or fewer.  We reserve the right to edit for content and length.

Welcome to The Cape Gazette Archive.
This content is provided free of charge
thanks to our sponsor:

Close ad in...

Close Ad