LOCAL media has a lot of responsibility and that is not taken lightly.
I have noticed a growing trend in Middle Tennessee and far beyond. Quite often after a story is reported, published or broadcast, family members of the person arrested and named in an article, etc., will call the local media outlet demanding the story be removed.
Family will often state, "This story will cause too much harm to his/ her children, or mother or father, I insist you remove it - he/she is addicted to (name your drug)."
The fact is that he/she who committed the crime is the one causing damage to the family, not the media. The addiction is shaping their life in a horrible way. The crime is the aftermath of the addiction. The media has a job of making that addiction / crime known so others listening, watching or reading don't continue their narrow road and instead get help.
It could easily be argued that the majority of those arrested for serious crimes that are reported in the media have an addiction or a troubling and sad past. They need help, obviously.
Other times local media will receive a call or email suggesting that the family member arrested has a severe mental illness. While that maybe true, so do the majority of those arrested. The United States Department of Justice reports, “64 percent of local jail inmates, 56 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners have symptoms of serious mental illnesses.” Again, a problem that needs to be reported so that change can happen.
If stories of such are NOT reported, then how will the public know of the issues we as a society need to work on?
For example, if someone is charged with DUI number 6, it should be reported by local media. If it is not reported, how would you realize that we have a problem with the way alcohol cases are treated by the laws we currently have in place? If it were not reported, how would you be reminded that many people in our society have extreme addiction and help is again needed.
Another example, when synthetic drugs were sold in gas stations as bath salts and persons on bath salts were arrested after getting high and randomly attacking and literally eating people, it was reported in local media. If things like that were not reported, then laws would not have been enacted to end the sale of bath salts in gas stations. Rehabilitation centers would not have known about some of the current drugs being used as swiftly had they not been reported in the local media first.
Local news is powerful and potentially life changing for the good, if used properly. It allows the residents of the community to help others like national media cannot do. It allows for big issues to be made known, laws to be changed and programs be developed to help the community as a whole as the result of the arrest of only a few.
One more thing... It allows those who are arrested for serious crimes to publicly choose to make a change for the good or to continue on their current road of destruction. Being publicly known means that the complaining family can fully address their loved one instead of hushing a hard conversation. Perhaps the problems have been kept behind closed doors for years and now it is out in the open. The story may create more pain in the present, but perhaps real recovery in the future - if properly addressed. It will also allow his/her children to know the true dangers of the addicted which means family can come along and fully support the children before that child makes life altering decisions for the negative.
As for how criminal names or stories are handled on social media with no heart whatsover, that is a problem of those commenting. Social media can be harsh because of people commenting without thinking.
I believe we should all take a step back before we comment and remember that we are about to comment on a real person who may have a very sad past of physical abuse, sexual abuse or an addiction. The person arrested could have a mental illness that has gone undiagnosed for years and years. Life is real and sometimes really hard.
I'll step down from my soap box now.
I took this photo in Nashville in 2015, I found it interesting how so many people are anxious to photograph what they believe to be newsworthy and comment about it on social media so quickly.