Friday, July 14, 2017

About the coverage of the July 4 quadruple-fatality accident

The reaction to the coverage provided by the Turner Report and Inside Joplin on the July 4 quadruple-fatality accident continues to pour in with more comments both on the blog posts and on my personal Facebook page and the Inside Joplin Facebook page.

First, the coverage itself.

A subject that was brought up by driver McKay Harris' mother in her post on my public Facebook page, which was also posted Thursday on the Turner Report, was the cause of the accident that claimed her son's life.

My original Inside Joplin post noted that Harris had been arrested for driving while intoxicated. Harris's mother says that it was a phone that distracted him and several commenters have accepted that as fact.

There also have been commenters who have said this blog should check its facts, giving the impression that I made up the DWI off the top of my head, or that it should not have been written about in the first place.

While I am sure many readers are aware of this, the Highway Patrol DWI Arrests that run on a daily basis on Inside Joplin come directly from the Highway Patrol. The people who are listed on those reports were arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

While this is not a 100 percent guarantee that the drivers were intoxicated and there have been instances where the troopers have been mistaken, the listing of a name is a guarantee that the trooper who investigated an accident or who stopped a driver found evidence that indicated that the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

This is not a responsibility that troopers take lightly.

The information is turned over to county prosecuting attorneys who make the decision on whether official charges will be filed. 

In this case, no prosecuting attorney will ever have to make the decision.

Results of blood tests will determine in a few weeks whether alcohol was truly involved in the accident. I would be surprised if the decision to cite the driver for DWI was based solely on tests that would not be thoroughly evaluated for weeks.

I am not going to speculate on what that evidence may have been because I don't know.

The Turner Report and Inside Joplin were not the only news sources to note the DWI arrest. The Springfield News-Leader, KOAM, and KZRG and the Zimmer radio stations, as well as other media outlets, all noted the DWI arrests in their coverage.

Whenever there is a multiple fatality accident, the public has an intense interest. And there are valid reasons to know as much information about it as possible.

In this case, the accident involved a teen driver and two teen deaths, as well as two respected members of the Neosho community.

People want to know how and why the accident happened. Was there any way it could have been prevented? In this case, the accident occurred at a dangerous location. Coverage may remind people of the need to exercise caution in that area and people may see a need to try to do something to make the location less dangerous.

Was there a societal problem or a law enforcement, judicial, or legislative problem that contributed to what happened July 4?

While the Turner Report's examination of public records involving McKay Harris showed absolutely no sign of any instances of driving while intoxicated, Joplin and Neosho Municipal Court records indicated that he had been charged two previous times with driving without a license within the last couple of months.

Whenever a fatality accident occurs and a driver is cited for DWI, I automatically check to see if there is anything in the driver's background that shows there were indications that something like this could happen.

Most of us feel a need to understand how four people who were living, breathing, vital members of our community can be here one moment and then gone in a heartbeat.

That is the function of news.

Please do not tell me that it is nobody's business. It is everybody's business.

Now about the comments:

While I have sympathy for the families and friends of those who lost their lives as a result of the July 4 accident, I have no plans to start eliminating comments that someone may consider hurtful. While it had to be hurtful to read readers' negative comments about McKay Harris and their comments saying that he should receive a long prison sentence, those comments, while obviously hard for someone who knew Harris to read, are legitimate.

Just as legitimate are those who defended Harris, pointed out his good qualities and disagreed with those who wanted to see him harshly punished.

While some people did not express their views in the politest fashion, both sides helped contribute to a discussion about the kind of accident that should never happen to anyone.


Sanguinem Victoria said...

It's upsetting to me. personally, that you would feel the need to make a post like this. That being said, I do hope it gives some clarity into your reasoning and helps to diminish the very wrong idea that your reporting is malicious in any fashion as it clearly is not.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining to us why you are no longer employed by a news organization.

Anonymous said...

At least you as a journalist care or you would not have written this post. Not many journalists care what they write. I read the comments of the mother and I know her heart is broken but it was not right what she said either. I have noticed that no matter what the situation is when a child dies people on social media will comment negatively. I think if you are in that families position you would probably be best to just not read comments on the stories or you will be further hurt. It is news when something like this happens. Please don't stop reporting news but please people think of others feelings when and if you comment. If you don't have something good to say shut up.

Steve Holmes said...

Thanks for explaining your reasoning, Randy. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to provide us with accurate news worthy reporting.

Anonymous said...

Please keep up the good work you do and don't let the locals deter you from your job. It is not easy to go against the majority around here and you will always be subject to the new mantra called "fake news." That is what they do now if anything goes against their views. You have made a difference and many of us appreciate your efforts.

Liberty Belle said...

I have been quiet on this topic because it is a sad situation but trust and believe me when I say there is lots to be said but I won't. A mother will only see her side, a news media will report what it wants but me being a community member I could say harsh comments about this wreck and things that were reported about Mr Harris but the Christian in me won't. I could ask mom questions about her child but I won't. I pray that The Lord Jesus Christ comforts all involved in this matter and we can all move on.

Anonymous said...

The thing I have the most problem with is that Turner almost seems to relish these tragic situations. He can't wait to exploit something that will get clicks on his page. He has no soul.

Anonymous said...

743, I would say its the public that relishes these stories, not Turner. Look at how many comments this story gets vs the recent stories of legislation passed in Missouri that hurts the middle class and the poor. If he really was looking for ratings around here, all he needs to do is post stories on Guns, abortion, or Hillary.

Anonymous said...

No mother or family member would want to see or hear negative things about their child. Unfortunately, this young man had been making very poor decisions for a while that not only affected himself, but family, friends and others. He tested, challenged and chose to ignore the law when it came to underage drinking, smoking, illegal drugs, selling illegal drugs at school and driving. It does not mean that he didn't love his family and friends. It doesn't mean he wasn't a generous soul. He was obviously a child/friend who was loved very much. He didn't deserve to die. Good people make bad decisions and poor choices. It is very sad and tragic.The Highway Patrol do not make up circumstances involving accidents. Accidents with fatalities have alcohol testing done on driver. It is public and you can look it up on the MO Highway Patrol web site under traffic accidents. It says when testing was done. Also, if there is suspicion of alcohol or drug use the patrol can obtain a specimen from person when ER staff are working on them and do an instant check for alcohol/drugs. Unfounded accusations are not made. Where are all of the comments when repeat offenders continue to drive under the influence of alcohol/drugs and just get their hands slapped numerous times. Look it up on casenet. Facts are public and right there. Seek out who is giving these underage kids alcohol. Someone is getting it for them. The effects of alcohol are proven facts. Add in messing on phone while driving too. Disaster in the making. Pray for McKay,the other 3 victims and their families. Parents can do everything right and children can make poor/wrong decisions or even CHOOSE to make illegal/immoral/unaccepted decisions in spite of it. Pray for his mother who has to wonder every single moment of every day if she did everything right. No parent should EVER have to bury their child.

Anonymous said... just proves my point. This post has way more comments than any other post regarding legislation that affects the masses. It doesn't matter why.....abyone knows that the public pays more attention to negative and controversial headlines. Turner knows this and in turn....exploits it. Hence the word exploit. You can blame the public if you want....but do we blame big tobacco or the people who choose to smoke? There's a market for everything and plenty of blame to go around.

Anonymous said...

308, Mr Turner covers many subjects. Are you saying that an accident killing several people is not news? Its not Turners fault that the folks here in SW Mo ignore the legislative posts and go with the dramatic stories. Following legislation and how it directly affects you takes a little work and people here obviously will not do that. That is why SW Mo will remain poor and ignorant. You all just elected a governor that is gladly pulling out any form of help for the most needy people in this area. After years of calling Obama a Communist, you all now say praise Putin. After years of saying the unemployment numbers under Obama are fake, you all praise the same data now. I read comments recently that praise Trump for the stock market, although it went from 7000 to 18500 under Obama.Trump makes all his products over seas, yet you believe that he says America first and he will return jobs. It is cult like behavior. The day I can leave this area cannot get here soon enough.

Harvey Hutchinson said...

Thank you Randy for explaining this so eloquently to your readers, et al--- a wonderful service to SW MO!!

Now if someone can explain the same prototype former FBI Director James Comey, and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch????

Harvey Hutchinson 303-522-6622 voice&text 24:7

Anonymous said...

4:43....focus. You tried to give a response, albeit a weak one, then went into a diatribe about Trump, Obama, Putin, etc. I have no idea how that obviously have other issues to resolve. And somehow you made some connection that I am a Trump supporter? Tks, tsk....I am not. I stand by my original comments.

Anonymous said...

1050, you focus, I just gave examples of how simple the mind of the SW MO voter actually is and how it relates here. As far as assuming you to be a Trump voter, I went with the 70% odds when I lumped you in, my apologies.