By Arek Sarkissian II
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Wednesday July 16, 2003
I have to admit, if there's one reason I picked up the Wildcat prior to working here, it was to read who got busted in Police Beat.
And I'll admit again, I was furious when Editor in Chief Maggie Burnett decided to take all names out of one of the most popular sections in the paper. However, I got to experience why she did this during my short term as captain.
I had just received keys to the place when I saw a note pasted on the heralded EIC computer. Waiting for me was my first official duty: a recently graduated student called. Her name came up on Google search during a job interview. She wants it removed, or else.
I did my bit of research, called the student, and found that she had been exonerated for the petty alcohol-related offense. I gladly called my newly hired web editor to have her name removed.
But also sitting at my desk was a note scribbled in green pen on a piece of reporter pad paper, which had been left from the days of the outgoing editor. My curiosity killed me. I had to ask him what it was.
"Oh, his mom wants his name removed from Police Beat," he said.
Run of the mill stuff, right?
This student was caught skateboarding naked across campus back in 1998. His mother was livid because her son's name also came up in Police Beat after a Google search. My thoughts were, why should we remove this? My hands, however, were tied on this one as the outgoing editor had already agreed to banish his name from our records.
We're missing the purpose of Police Beat here!
One of the most rewarding sides to the job of a police reporter is holding people accountable for their actions. Now that's journalism; being the watchdog not only over corporations and institutions, but also the community as a whole.
Maybe this is why journalists are hated almost as much as attorneys, but the trade is simple, don't do anything wrong and you won't get written about, right?
That's why I'm thinking about bringing names back to the Police Beat, depending on the severity of the offense. For instance, underage students caught drinking need not worry, unless they do something really dumb. However, any students caught doing something more serious beware. Your name might just show up in print.
Let me know what you think by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org