Press reports of arrests for driving while intoxicated are embarrassing. They cause hardship for the people involved and their families.
The stories also serve as a deterrent, causing folks to think twice before having another drink and getting behind the wheel.
Those were some of the points made to us over the past several weeks after newspaper owner Troy Gustavson encouraged readers to share their thoughts on our policy of publishing the names of all people arrested for DWI on the North Fork.
We read countless passionate responses from members of the community, some of whom support our policy and others who vehemently do not. Many of you made good points in comments and letters that were published in our newspapers and on our websites.
After some discussion among the members of our editorial board, we’ve decided the policy should not change.
We report hundreds of arrests every year. They range from petit larcenies and assaults to the occasional armed robbery and murder. In every instance, we name the arrested subject.
Sometimes those named include our friends, our family members or even our co-workers. Sometimes these people are arrested for crimes we’re surprised rose to the level of a police press release. We still report it.
Would you really want to read a newspaper that picks and chooses which arrests warrant coverage? It’s far too slippery a slope to navigate, one that lends itself to unfair reporting based on personal connections to the incidents and the parties involved.
The easiest way to be fair is to report them all. So we will continue to publish the name and charge on every single arrest release we receive, whether the person was arrested for stealing an inexpensive item or for driving after drinking one too many beers.
For us, the DWI reporting issue is as much about journalistic integrity as about public safety. We appreciate your thoughtful responses and thank you for taking the time to write us. It truly is our hope your name never appears in our blotter.