Friday, March 20, 2009

Globe and Daily: Victims' families offer emotional testimony at Neosho church shooter's sentencing

A bulletin or two a little earlier in the day would have been nice, but the Joplin Globe and Neosho Daily News have posted their versions of this morning's sentencing hearing for murderer Eiken Elam Saimon.

The Globe offered one of its abbreviated versions (as if someone is going to spend extra money on the print edition Saturday) but included a portion of the victim impact statements of Pastor Kernal Rehobson's wife and son:

Lovihna Rehobson had even stronger words for Saimon, who received three life sentences without parole, plus additional prison time, at the hearing. She reminded him how her husband had helped him, with food and money and in other ways since coming to the U.S.. Yet, Saimon had shot her husband in the face when he tried to approach and calm the armed intruder at the church service, she said.

“You are going to be rotting in hell,” she told Saimon. “You are going to rot in jail.”

The Daily buried the testimony at the end of the story, with John Ford opening the article with information that had already been made available to the public long ago through the Globe and KSN.

One way, Ford could have jumped on the other outlets would have been by moving Saimon's chilling statements regarding his reasoning for the murders to the opening paragraphs:

I had one of them explain to me that in their culture, they don’t have the death penalty as a possibility,” Skouby said. “They will get finalization in this plea, as the Supreme Court will not overturn it down the road. And he understands that it is in his best interest to take this plea today.”
In both written and oral statements presented to the court, Saimon said the shooting incident was as a result of embarrassment he suffered at a barbecue days before the shooting. He said he didn’t bring any food to the event, and his relatives gave him a hard time about it, saying he was stealing food for his children.

“That made me really mad,” he said in a written statement known as a defendant’s factual basis for a plea of guilty. “I went home and thought about how they were all talking bad about me and how much I helped all of them when they first came to the U.S. I knew they would all be at church on Sunday afternoon.”

I would have used that for the lead, taken a more feature-oriented approach, taking Neosho back to that horrible day and included the basics of Saimon's plea agreement in a textbox.

The feature approach would have reminded readers that it was the Neosho Daily News that owned this story from the outset, using blanket coverage, combined with solid footleather reporting, and strong writing. Instead, the story on the hearing, if that is the end of the Daily's coverage, sounded a weak note.


Anonymous said...

Why can't you let people do their job the way they choose and you tend to your own business....You have an overblown view of your own importance and abilities...the local reporters don't need a washed up has-been to give them lectures...your gall is very unbecoming.

Why don't you put your money where your mouth is and pay for a subscription...maybe that would give you a better right to criticize...what a cheapskate!!

Heike S. said...

Why should he subscribe if the paper isn't very good? I always feel like I've wasted 50 cents when I buy it.