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You can't indict opinion. Nor should you.
November 26, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
People might just think the “media,” we, the nebulous group that gets cast in one big lump every day because of the activities of guys on FOX or CNN or NBC or CBS or the New York Times relish telling the tales of dirty laundry.
Well, there are, unsurprisingly, those in the press who do relish such crap.
And there are those who are unscrupulous about it.
And now, the “mainstream media” faces a new challenge from the instantaneous Web posters, the bloggers, the Twittersphere, the Facebookers. I actually walked away from the job because of the conduct of these people, bound by no rules of lawsuit or common sense or common decency as they are. But I’ve decided being an old dog at work so I may remind folks that there were rules developed over centuries in America about the press and its conduct for a reason.
Take, for example, the one guy who had posted the salaries of Mr. McVey, Ms. Gorman and Mr. Fluharty before the attorney general’s press conference about their indictments in relation to the Steubenville rape case grand jury was halfway through.
Agenda? Something to grind? Perhaps.
At that point in the day, I had facts to grind out for the breaking story for the newspaper on Monday morning. (I note here that maybe the poster thought better and took the post down because I couldn’t find it last night.)
There will be those who say we’re guilty of complicity to protect because we’re not publishing the salaries out of context an hour or two after the indictments were served in the case. Those become important as these folks are suspended with pay or let go. That was not the case at all on Monday morning, so no reason to smear their salaries about at that point, public record though they are.
And surely there are those who will want blood of others, blinded by football or whatever the motives, blood that couldn’t be delivered by the grand jury, blood that is not the job of actual reporters who deal in what they can prove, not what they “think” or what they “know” in a news story.
It makes me want to issue a two-word verb-pronoun reply to most people much of the time because most people much of the time cannot tell the difference between factual reporting and opinion. And because so much Internet opinion, so easily produced, is based on wildly wrong or out of context facts — if any facts at all — woe be it to the person who just wants to deal with what he can prove, not what he “thinks” or “knows.”
This is opinion right here. This daily online column -- I won’t denigrate my work by calling it a “blog” because I consider that form of media to include too many who deal in just what I’ve negatively described above -- is my opinion. Factual based or just for fun and spun from my mind. But it is not a news story. Not by a longshot.
Do you get the difference? Grand juries have to do the same thing or the rule of law is a joke.
So much of what happened in the Steubenville rape case was blasted about by those who dealt with what they “think” or what they “think they know” in my opinion. In my opinion, the police investigated and issued charges. In my opinion, the grand jury investigated and investigated and has issued its indictments. In my opinion, maybe, just maybe, the public outcry about making sure someone did something in the case had the effect of keeping an alleged cover-up from sweeping matters under the rug. We’ll see as the defenses are mounted.
As for having any responsibility to satisfy the blood-lust for more indictments, I leave that to the opinion of those who didn’t start out with a news reporter background rooted in dealing with what we can prove. Do I think football programs run amok? Absolutely. One needs only to look at Ohio State or Penn State or Ben Roethlisberger to see the evidence.
But my distaste for those fallen icons of my own life is my choice. There was not evidence to indict Mr. Roethlisberger, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking the quarterback of my formerly favorite team is a lout. Jim Tressel lost his job. The Penn State situation is a mess and I’m still not sure what I really think about Joe Paterno, who was beloved in my family’s eyes but may have brushed what he knew off with the old “told the boss” defense. We’ll never know because it’s easiest to blame the dead man.
I am a reforming football addict. I don’t watch a lot of football anymore.
But that’s my opinion and my choice.
And you can’t be indicted for expressing an opinion, especially one clearly labeled.
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