Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Herald's Copout


In its story on the homeless beating case today, the Herald's Nikki Waller and Sara Olkon led with sort of a Kitty Genovese approach, highlighting the fact that "several people passed up opportunities to find help and possibly save" Norris Gaynor from the baseball bat-wielding teens who killed him.

But there was only one bystander pinpointed in the story who might have actually been able to help , a "Parkland man" who witnessed part of the beating on his way to his truck after a night at bars. I can understand him not intervening -- he didn't want a baseball bat upside his head. But the fact that he saw Gaynor dying and didn't call call police for at least a day -- the Sentinel said it was a few days -- is flat-out appalling.

But here's where it gets galling. Though the Herald's story was dominated by the "Parkland man," the newspaper chose not to name him or even state his age. This despite the fact that he's in public records and will play a major role at the trial, if there is one. Why? Obviously the newspaper got cold feet. Editors must have misconstrued journalistic duty -- naming the guy -- with being insensitive or unfair to the man who let Gaynor die without telling anybody.

To get the Parkland man's name, you have to read the Sentinel's story (both were based on yesterday's release of 450 pages of discovery by prosecutors). It was 33-year-old Anthony Clarke.

What Clarke did was unconscionable. How outraged would you be if that was your loved one this guy saw pummeled and bleeding and dying and then just drove home like nothing happened? I don't know if the state's criminal negligence laws cover what he did, but at the very least he should be held up to public scrutiny. Yet the cowardly Herald let him hide under the cloak of anonymity.

The newspaper also failed to name a 16-year-old who went along for the ride with his buddies who did the beating. Again, the Sentinel did the right thing and named him, helping to earn it Story of the Day honors.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're not bound by law to help someone in need. it's sick to watch someone die, but helping someone out could often put you in danger. that's why people choose not to get involved, and that's why, under the law, it's OK. This guy will not go to jail or be charged with anything.
Same thing for the hundreds and maybe thousands of people who everyday witness traffic accidents of all sorts and don't stop.

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