Responsible Journalism a Must

I am not a cop. I am not the guy who places window decals on my car stating I contributed to police associations nor do I have a sticker on my bumper that reads "I heart my state trooper." Even when I played 'Cops and Robbers' as a kid, I always wanted to be the robber.

I am, however, an advocate for responsible journalism. Elizabeth Dinan's Seacoast News article published on December 6 titled, "Officer cites special treatment," would make her college journalism professor curl up in a ball and cry. I guarantee it.

The story theme contends special treatment was offered to an injured state trooper's wife that would not be offered to anyone else. It states she was driven to Boston in the form of a police convoy after her husband, NH State Trooper Gary Ingham Jr., was involved in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer truck while on duty. A local Brentwood fire department official elected to have the injured trooper transported to Boston by MedFlight.

Ms. Dinan wrote that the "special treatment" was confirmed by one source and one source only being a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, no less.

I contend that one of the two should be fired.

Since I am not a reporter and I am writing this as an opinionated letter, my rebuttal does not require that much research. I just do not believe the story is accurate based on face value. I contend the writer slanted this piece for a reason.

Journalists know they can write a biased opinion piece under the veiled guise of hard news or as a news feature. Journalists are not trained to do this. Journalists are actually taught not to do this. It is easy to do by selecting the quotes or portions of the quotes while interlacing selective facts to support their agenda. I bet I can turn a 'Toys for Tots' drive story into a "Parents enraged when child frightened by a donated Ferby doll" headline, if given enough quotes and selective research.

The lead paragraph implies that Massachusetts State Police spokesman David Procopio conceded the police escort offered to the injured trooper's wife would not be offered to civilians. There is no quote to support that statement. If I was a student of journalism, my professor would kick me in the butt unless I followed this with an actual quote. We are expected to believe a spokesman for the state police threw his employers under the bus? Please, Elizabeth! You should know better. A strong statement like that needs attribution

The only comment remotely related, deep in the story line states, "Procopio said Massachusetts State Police provides escorts for members of law enforcement, but rarely for civilians."

It is a stand alone comment with no indication as to what circumstances state police provide escorts. I bet you ten bucks he was referring to escorts for a multitude of purposes including prisoner transfers, protective services and writers charged with shoddy journalism.

He is also quoted as saying, "We have on occasion helped families of civilians get to hospitals. But from New Hampshire? Probably not likely."

Well yeah. I guess that sums it up pretty much. Cops do offer lifts depending on the circumstances. The police are not a taxi service, but in emergencies those calls are made in the field while each situation has to be a judgment call.

Why not likely from New Hampshire? I think I know. Call me crazy but it might be because it is another state. Most accident victims are sent to local hospitals by ambulance and not via MedFlight to Boston.

Frankly, I wish the story was true but I will not know based on the Dinan article. A trooper gets injured and these guys band together to clear the streets for his wife? How cool is that? Very. I truly appreciate the loyalty to any sort of fraternal order. Professional brotherhood is hard to come by these days as we seem to have become such a detached society.

Even when I played 'Cops and Robbers' as a kid my outlaw friends always carried me safely back to the hideout so the cops would not catch me. It's an honor thing.

I do not know where the future journalists of America were at the time but I am willing to bet some were already in training on the other side of the playground engaged in gossip and talking smack about others to compensate for their own shortcomings

Jay Alberts


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