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Journalists or stenographers?

Published Monday, June 14, 2010 @ 12:21 PM EDT
Jun 14 2010

It seems if authorities won't release the information, it's the end of the story.

No local media source has identified the driver of the pick-up truck responsible for that horrible accident in Pleasant Hills on Friday evening.

I asked the Post-Gazette via e-mail why the driver remains unidentified, and the response was:

> ...police have not released the driver's name...

I replied:

Which begs the question: why not?

Why have the police not released the driver's name?

Is the driver politically connected, or related to someone who is?

Forgive my impertinence- but why isn't the Post-Gazette asking these questions?

The withholding by authorities of the identity of the person responsible for this horrendous incident is a valid story in itself.

You published the details of the rehearsal dinner, the postponed wedding, the name of the pastor of the church where the wedding was supposed to be held, even the fact the bride-to-be was a former homecoming queen. Her family's background is now an open book.

But the person responsible gets a pass?

The PG came back with:

> we do ask these questions. police rarely answer. they don't have to,
>> under the state's poor sunshine law.

This, from "One of America's Great Newspapers?"

I replied,


There is still a story here:

Police won't identify
driver responsible for
wedding rehearsal crash

Pleasant Hills is a borough, which means the mayor is in charge of the police department. Ask the mayor. If he won't answer, your headline is now:

Mayor won't identify
driver responsible for
wedding rehearsal crash

Now, you have a significant story.

No reply, as yet.

What's really galling about this entire incident is that all the local media have taken the lazy way out covering this story. Initial reports didn't include the victims' names, because they weren't released by the police. Yet there were 30 friends and family members at the restaurant, and several were interviewed on television (apparently to intersperse between the "bent metal" shots). It didn't occur to any of these Woodwards or Bernsteins to ask the names of those in the crash?

Failing to report the name of the pick-up truck driver is inexcusable. Basic Reporting 101: Who is involved? So far, we only have half the story.

The police won't tell you the name of the driver? That's also news. Publish it. Shortly after it appears, you'll start getting phone calls from persons who do know who the driver is. Preliminary reports indicate he was breaking several traffic laws. It occurred in a construction area, where fines are doubled.

Has anyone appeared before the local magistrate on traffic-related charges? If not, why not?

Napoleon is reputed to have said "Never attribute to malice that which can be blamed on stupidity." Or sloth, it appears. The local media have moved on to the next shiny object to attract its attention.

They could be covering up, aiding and abetting local officials in order to shield the privileged.

Nah. Too conspiratorial.

They're all just doing the minimum necessary to get by. They're bad journalists, doing a half-assed job. Reporting the name of just one driver in a two car accident? Reminds me of an old George Carlin routine: "And here's a partial score: Pittsburgh, 5."


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