Editorial – Names in the News

Is there a difference between news and gossip? When does the public interest trump personal privacy? Distinguishing news from gossip is often in the eye of the beholder. Yet, no matter what your personal view of what ought to be left to private conversation, several recent “stories” have presented opportunities for all of us to re-access our opinions.

Clarke Daily News - Opinion & Editorial

Clarke Daily News - Opinion & Editorial

A couple of weeks ago the Clarke Daily News ran a story describing an intoxicated parent that was arrested after attempting to pick-up a student at Berryville Elementary School. We included the parent’s name in our story after the name was released by the Berryville police department. While a few of our readers expressed discomfort with the story (one even referred to the story as “gossip”), most readers applauded the school employees for “doing the right thing” and defended the public interest in hearing the name of the parent. Pleasant news? No, but news none the less.

Another story that everyone seems to know about but hasn’t appeared in print involves several students involved in a school club who were recently disciplined for alcohol use during a school sanctioned event. The disciplinary measures and the student identities are an open secret. Fortunately the infraction didn’t result in physical harm to any of the students. We’re glad that the incident did not become news but teen drinking is a community problem not just a school problem. As with the intoxicated parent at Berryville Elementary, community opinion is sending the message that alcohol and our students don’t mix.

This past week another local news source published a story about Clarke County High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance club. Clarke students, the news source reported, formed the club about a year ago, one of 103 similar student clubs across Virginia. The fact that the story published the full names of gay and bi-sexual students over protests from school officials may be news but the sexual orientation of minors living in Clarke County is not. In fact, the story simply raised the profile on an issue that the student body already is handling independently. Is this story news? Perhaps, but including the names of the students involved goes too far for such a controversial topic.

The Clarke Daily News has been delivering news and information to our community for just six months now. But during that time we have not found any shortage of news (or opinions) about the lives and times of Clarke County, Virginia. In fact, during most weeks there is more news than we can cover. News editors have an obligation and responsibility to report the news responsibly and sensibly. Our goal in creating the Clarke Daily News was to bring you news in ways that, we hope, will make our community stronger and less divided. We will attempt to moderate our reporting in a way that is consistent with Clarke County’s social values. We will likely never agree all of the time, however, your continued comments and participation are key to our collective success.


  1. Right Winger says:

    What is really a shame is how the students that were involved in the incident carry themselves. They think it’s funny, and don’t understand why teachers won’t talk to them. This is the second year in a row that organization has had an incident involving several students. Seems to me that those in charge of those students don’t do a very good job of supervising them.

    • Doug Landry says:

      Now…don’t paint with too large a brush. There may well be some truth to your supposition, but don’t overlook the fact that teens are wily ones, and where’s there’s a will to sneak in alcohol, there’s a way. It’s all about right and wrong choices, and learning that there are some hard consequences for those wrong choices. I’m just glad that the school admin finally decided to come down hard on them and serve notice that such behavior isn’t going to be tolerated. Will it have an effect? Who knows? A lot of that falls on the kids, and on their parents.

    • Tony Parrott says:

      Fair editorial, I for one believe the CDN has exercised good judgment in dealing with touchy articles on our students.
      Not sure the “Ones in charge” are the problem. Teenagers are the problem; they know everything. We know this because we ALL were teenagers at one time and we knew everything. Because of our great understanding of everything we made stupid choices (big and small). As parents you teach your kids right from wrong and provide a strong foundation from the start. Once they are teenagers you start letting them make their own decisions and mistakes and hope to GOD the mistakes are small. The ones in charge are there to instruct our children; it’s our job as parents to teach.
      I’ve heard it said a smart man learns from his mistakes and a wise man learns from others mistakes. Let’s hope these kids are smart and the others are wise.

  2. Jeane Cromer says:

    Well, we’ll see how you handle the recent suicide, and then decide.

    • Casting stones from your glass house?
      Gossip indeed!

      • Jeane Cromer says:

        Well, Sam Imtooafraidtousemylastname, I was refering to good ethical journalism.

        • You were referring to good journalism? Your comments are exceedingly difficult to follow and are borderline nonsensical.

          In the Berryville Primary story comments you were the one who called it gossip. Yet when presented with the opportunity to “break a story” in these comments you roll your little nugget out there with a reference to an unreported suicide. That is gossip.

          What in the world do you mean you were referring to “ethical journalism?”

    • Right Winger says:

      What suicide?

  3. Wow, this from the one who condemns for gossip! You lay down a line like that and attempt to play high and mighty? That sure sounds like gossip to me…

  4. Doug Landry says:

    CDN, thanks for this fair editorial. You make some good, solid points. I can understand why school officials might be concerned with naming the students in the GSA, but at the same time I thought the article spoke to the courage of the students who wished to set it up in full knowledge that – in our fair community – there might very well be a dustup, regardless of how narrowminded it might be.

    As for the underage drinking matter – To be sure, this county is a great community, with a lot going for it. But…it is no secret that there are families who either pay no attention to what their kids are ingesting, or enable it by hosting the field parties or parties at their homes under the misguided idea that “Well…if they’re here, then they’re safe.” Illegal is illegal, regardless of location. As that mother in Charlottesville who, a year or two ago, received a hefty jail sentence for providing her house and the booze for her son’s underage birthday party. So, while there are some – fortunately – who are taking a stand on this issue, there are also many who send the wrong message that it’s OK if you don’t get caught or do so under “controlled” circumstances. This latest instance pulled back that curtain just a bit.

    Overall, I commend CDN for all of the news, highlights, and publicity it has brought to this community. It’s been great to see our community once again have a place to stay in touch, promote positive events, and be more informed. Nice job!

  5. Mayor Quinsby says:

    If the Clarke daily news is going to name names…i.e. the parent of the JWMS student,[without a positive conviction]then it should include the names of all alleged law breakers, regardless of age. Too many citizens of our community love to cast stones, but only at certain targets. If the media can ruin the life of one middle school student, then the parents and teens of the drinking incident should be ruined as well. Just because the majority of the comments were in favor of printing the name of the parent, it doesn’t make it right. There are way too many occurances in our town to start pointing fingers before all the facts are in. Let’s allow our courts to handle the fodder.

    • Lonnie Bishop says:

      Sir, again you have your facts wrong. It was not a parent of a J-WMS student. The student is enrolled at Berryville Primary, as the original article clearly stated. Per the editorial, the name was released once the Town PD released its arrest report. That is no different than the papers publishing the regular listing of grand jury convictions, listing names and addresses of those formally charged with a crime. The high school students were not named because no criminal charges were filed, or they are minors, or whatever reason we are not privy to.

      • Mayor Quinsby says:

        You completely missed my point. First, you are correct. It was the primary school. My fault. But, my point is, why release names of anyone unless convicted in a court of law. Just because the town police release an arrest report, does not mean we need to publicly crucify citizens who have not been formally convicted.

        • Your point is absurd.

          “There was an accident at the intersection of such and such road and they were charged with reckless driving, but don’t say anything , they haven’t been convicted.”

          Public information is public information and the individual caused a public incident.

          Methinks thou dost protest too much…

        • Lonnie Bishop says:

          I will give you one point, sir: there were a few folks, none of whom authored the initial article in question, who passed judgement on the man’s state of mind, his mental health, whether or not he was going through a life issue, used it to take a broad swipe at the community as a whole, etc. Those few did no justice acting like Dr. Phil.

          CDN, however, merely reported the facts of what happened, releasing a name after the police report was finalized and releaesed to the press. The larger point of it is that school personnel did the right thing, and a potentially larger issue was averted.

    • Wow, your capacity to read and comprehend seems to be challenged.

  6. Mayor Quinsby says:

    So, by your logic, the high school soccer players that were caught drinking at the local IHOP [public place], should have their names plastered in every article written about them?

    • Your interpretation is erroneous.

      Public place does not constitute public information. As Lonnie and the article have pointed out to you repeatedly, the information became public when the police were forced to deal with the individual and file a report.

    • Debacle Watcher says:

      Your opinions, Mayor Q., are completely irrelevant because you obviously have no command of the facts in either story that you comment on. You should apoligize to the soccer team because it was not the soccer team. It was a different HS club. It was not at the local IHOP. It was an out of state IHOP while the club was on a school sanctioned trip.
      They were not arrested.
      Even if they had been, they are minors – police don’t release the names of minors.

    • Lonnie Bishop says:

      You are spewing erroneous facts with almost the same velocity as that damaged pipe on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Your posts are proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

  7. The following is not an erroneous fact. It was the DECA Club, IHOP in Louisville, KY, young ladies to be exact.

    The paper cannot print names of the some of students caught they are minors, however, one of those students are 18 therefore, that persons name could have been published.

    If it can be written that someone 18 and over was drunk trying to pick up their child from Berryville Primary, then it can be published of the who, what, where and why of the 18 year old.

    • Jim Gibson says:

      First, Lonnie’s comment about erroneous information was directed at “Mayor Quinsby” getting facts from the initial article wrong, not you.

      Second, you have released far more details than you needed to, and it makes it seem like you have a chip on your shoulder. The man attempting to pick up his daughter while intoxicated was arrested by the police, and thus had a police report generated and subsequently released to the public and media. The young ladies on the trip were not criminally charged, thus there are no publicly-released police-generated documents on that incident.

      The “news” of the school activity incident is out there, and sufficient shame is – or should be – felt by those who were busted. Given the consequences they did receive, what would be gained by doing what you bitterly seem to espouse? While, as you yourself say, it “can be written” and the name of the 18-year-old “could have been” published…thankfully, CDN’s reporter chose not to because to do so is mere gossipmongering.

      To follow your line of thought, a reporter should stake out every watering hole in town, and take pictures of all those who drunkenly get in their cars; every person photographed running a red light, or getting a speeding ticket, or caught cheating on his/her spouse, or whatever crime you can think up, “could be published.” Again, thankfully, CDN employs better judgement than you.

      For you to harp on this issue only casts you in a negative light.

      • Right Winger says:

        “…CDN employs better judgement than you.”

        Whoa there, CDN chose to publish June’s post, so don’t get mad at her because it passed muster to be posted on the website.

        • Doug Landry says:

          Point made.

        • I’ve seen that the club was, soccer then DECA. Both were allowed in comments. Are you saying one is correct? Where’s your judgement? I haven’t heard CDN say one way or the other. They just allowed people to speculate.

      • Mayor Quinsby says:

        Look who has the chip on the shoulder now! You just want certain peoples names published. I could care less about the high school 18 yr old. Let’s have the names of the chaperones that found out about the underage drinking and did not call the police. Sounds like the classic definition of “aiding and abetting”.

        • Lonnie Bishop says:

          Or…rather…they dealt with the discipline issue in-house. Those gals received some pretty tough consequences; if police had been involved, then their early acceptances to college would have been risked, too.

          Your dictionary skills apprently are no better than your reading skills.

          • some guy says:

            Sorry Lonnie, I must agree with the mayor. Why should the middle class white/black girl be given any leeway when it comes to the law. Maybe if they didn’t get into the college of their choice, they would actually see the gravity of their decision. A slap on the wrist will probably lead to another DWI accident.