Decisions, Decisions

We got the judge’s order in our Right to Know case today. Apparently I was convincing enough that the judge felt the need for an in camera review of the documents, meaning he gets to look at them and decide if they are of a private or public nature. Others in the office were taking it as a win, but I am a bit more cautious. To me it means neither side won handily, and the judge needs to peek at the cliff notes to make his decision. It does, however, prolong the matter. So we didn’t lose, which was the big thing.

On a similar note, the 26-year-old son of a police commissioner was arrested in November for stealing a truck, and it will be on tomorrow’s front page (below the fold). It in no way reflects on the performance of the elected official, but it was a significant enough crime we just couldn’t ignore it. The result is her name and that of her son will be taken to task because of their relationship. If it wasn’t for his mother’s position on the police commission we wouldn’t report this crime. And yet there is no way to ignore it, because if we don’t put it out there people start wondering if we are colluding with the “powers that be” to keep the commissioner’s son out of the paper.

It’s kind of too bad, but the decision had to be made that way. There wasn’t much we could do after we learned the story — it’s just a newsworthy event. And what’s more, the young man was the victim of an armed robbery two weeks before he allegedly stole the truck, an incident I agreed he didn’t need to be named in because he was the victim. It was again newsworthy that it was a family member of the commissioner who was robbed, but I didn’t think which family member it was was relavant.

Fast forward two months, however, and I can’t leave out that detail. It all ties together. In some ways these stories write themselves. I couldn’t have imagined two months about the person I was trying to protect from undue scrutiny after he’d just had a gun in his face would be looking at a year in jail himself. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you have any decisions to make when you write a story — this one is one of those instances.

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