Saturday, November 15, 2014

Viewers deserve the facts so they can make up their own minds

Tonight I reported on many issues of the DuPont chemical spill near La Porte, Texas where four people died. In my report I included details about past incidents at the facility and another of the company's facilities.

This prompted a viewer to comment the following:
What is the deal with previous violations? I'm sure the news media has previous violations that have or could have caused injury to people in the surrounding area. Are we looking for something to make a news story with? Isn't the news media happy that something dreadful has occurred and killed people so that they don't have to make up news stories.

I enjoy sharing our thought process when it comes to selecting stories. Here is my reply:


I can assure you, I'm not happy with the fact four people died. I feel terribly for their families and loved ones.
As an investigative reporter, sometimes past company action is important. If you don't believe that, that's your prerogative. I think it's always important to look at what has happened previously because it can, in some cases, show a pattern. Maybe it shows other things.
I'm a firm believer in giving viewers all the facts. I don't want to be the one saying, in my opinion this incident was important and this one wasn't, so I'm going to withhold information. I think it's important to put the facts out there and let viewers make the decision. I'll let them decide what's important.
I don't agree that we made up any story here. That's a pretty strong allegation to make against someone whose work is based on honesty and accuracy.
Please don't let my honest response here make you think I don't appreciate you sharing your point of view. It's important that viewers do so. For that, I thank you.

What do you think?