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Last weekend, columnist James Ragland was arrested for domestic assault.
The Dallas Morning News suspended Ragland's column, and reassigned him to the Collin County bureau to general reporting pending his criminal charges.
The Dallas Morning News does not think that a writer charged with wife hitting should publish a Dallas column. But the Dallas Morning News does believe that Ragland will fit in Collin County well. (perhaps he would fit it better in Afghanistan)
The editor of the DMN was quoted in an article,
Say what! The DMN sees Collin County as exile in Coventry.
Dallas Morning News loves the revenue from this county, but they simply under report Collin County.
For example, look at the DMN's community page for Collin:
- The page lists "Collin County Stories" - the latest story is a week old, and the last one is almost 1 month old.
- The page lists the "Allen Blog". The last post on it was written last June!
- The "McKinney Blog" was not been updates since last July.
- The DMN has not reported the District Clerk's trial since Monday.
Since the Dallas Morning News lay-off last summer, the DMN has deeply cut the Collin bureau to a skeleton crew.
DMN has several great reporters; Valerie Wigglesworth, Theodore Kim, and Jessica Meyers. They have tried, with a couple of younger of reporters, cover an area of 886 square miles with almost 800,000 residents.
The DMN reports,
So this idea of innocent until proven guilty is no longer applicable to the media?? Just because another accuses someone, does the media automatically take that as fact? What are the extenuating circumstances? Was she beating him first, or does the media select & quote what facts they want to post? (If he did hurt her it doesn't make it right, violence is unacceptable from either party)I have no Knowledge of this case, but the whole idea of trial by media is completely out of hand, whether in Collin County, Dallas county, or any other county. This is not Afghanistan.
The Observer Comments:
Of course an arrested person is still proven guilty.
I understand some of the conflicts the press faces - for example:
1. Should the media print the name and picture of the guy next door who was arrested for raping girls in your neighborhood.... or should you not have the right to know it?
2. Should the media report a bank teller who was arrested for embezzlement? Of course the suspect might have a hard time getting a job, if his name is in the paper?
3. Should the media report the story of a teacher who was assaulting kids. Or should it be kept private until the suspect is found guilty? Or until the case was finally appealed?
Were should the 4th estate draw the line when reporting a person is only arrested, not convicted?
This writer does not assume Mr. Ragland was guilty. This Observer did not demand that he be put in prison. What I did write about was that the newspaper though it unsuitable for him to cover Dallas County... so they sent him to Collin County.
Some here might object.
Thank you for your comment.
Certainly the idea doesn't apply to the officer that made the arrest, the intake at the D.A.'s office who accepted the charge, the ADA who is doing the prosecution, or anyone else who develops an opinion based on their knowledge of the events. (Also doesn't apply to the victim of the crime)
The only persons legally required to believe in the presumption of innocence is the trier of facts, either the judge or jury. The rest of us are free to convict in our minds, or excuse in our minds, as we see fit.
Having said that, in this case I don't believe that Mr. Ragland's guilt or innocence, tried or untried, in the writing of his column. Although I often disagree with him I am forced, in fairness, to admit he is a pretty good writer and often makes me re-evaluate my own ideas. I think he should have been left in place, writing his column, until the case was settled and then his position might be evaluated in the light of what is best for the DMN. Just my two cents worth, spend it wisely.
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