Thursday, November 08, 2007

Post-Star outs minor in violation of its own policy

Recently, there was another alcohol controversy regarding a star athlete in Fort Edward.

A player for their football team was arrested for allegedly urinating on a public street and running from cops who tried to question him.

The player was suspended for two games by the school, the state quarterfinal and (potentially) the state semifinal, for violation of the school's athletic code of conduct.

Earlier this year, their star basketball player was spotted in pictures on the Internet attending a party where kids were drinking alcohol, another violation of the code of conduct. This long, drawn out fiasco was played out during the basketball team's run to the state final. No one was suspended.

So at least school officials learned from their PR black eye and did the right thing this time.

Not surprisingly, some people in Fort Edward are again blaming the newspaper, claiming they have a vendetta against the town and the school, blah blah blah. Hey Fort Edward, if your star athletes are lushes, it's not the daily's fault, it's the parents' fault! And don't complain to the paper if every corner of your downtown smells like piss.

However, there was one legitimate question raised about the paper's coverage this time around (just like last time).

One commenter to the online article asked, "I thought it was the policy of the POST-STAR not to list the names of underage people who have been arrested?"

And he's right. Many articles on alleged underage criminal behavior (such as this one) contain the disclaimer, "The Post-Star generally does not publish the names of those under 18 charged with misdemeanors or less."

The football player was charged with two non-criminal violations and a misdemeanor.

So why was his name plastered all over the paper?

The disclaimer does include the key word 'generally,' which is a pretty broad and vague loophole.

But no where did the paper explain why an exception was made in this case.

Yes, conspiracy theorists are running wild claiming The Post-Star hates Fort Edward, the school, etc. They have a vendetta. They want to tar and feather this poor kid to make an example out of him.

I suspect the paper's counterproductive editorial crusade against teen drinking is affecting its coverage of news stories. Most journalists will swear up and down that editorial positions do not affect news coverage. I can accept that the editorial positions of a newspaper may not affect HOW news stories are covered but I firmly believe that editorial positions often affect WHAT news stories are covered, HOW OFTEN and HOW MUCH PROMINENCE is given to each (front page vs the bottom corner of page B13).

The Post-Star provided no explanation why it ignored its own policy and chose to publicly flog this minor for actions which were stupid, disgusting and, yes, criminal but hardly a threat to public safety (he was on foot). As long as the daily refuses to provide an explanation for its apparent hypocrisy, the conspiracy theorists will thrive.


Anonymous said...

As far as the basketball player goes, at the time his daddy was either principal, superintendent or both, so I never thought much would happen.

Brian said...

Scoop: Superintendent.

Shortly after his son graduated, he became superintendent at Stillwater, I believe.

Renegade Eye said...

At the University of MN we had a more serious incident, with teachers pressured into giving passing grades to athletes, when they didn't deserve them.