News and Tribune

November 29, 2012

VAN HOY: The reason for running a story

By SHEA VAN HOY
shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com

— The editorial staff at the News and Tribune — along with newspapers and other media outlets around the world — face tough judgment decisions every day.

There are choices on when to publish a story, both in print and at newsandtribune.com, and where to publish, such as inside or on the front page; and if on the front, where at?

Sometimes, there is discussion on whether a news tip or subject is even a story worthy of publication at all. That decision could be based on the perceived news value of the story or whether enough sources and facts are known for publication.

There are also decisions to be made once it’s determined that a story will be published.

For instance, the newspaper takes care to protect the identity of children who are victims in abuse cases. We try to omit identifying factors, such as not noting a direct relation to an accused offender if the victim is a minor.

There also has been at least one instance where we decided against publishing the health reason that forced an area high school athlete to not participate in sports that season, because that person was a minor.

That brings me to a story published earlier this week on our sports section front page about former Jeffersonville High School basketball standout Brooke Valentine taking a leave of absence from the University of Southern Indiana hoops team because she is pregnant.

To be clear, the News and Tribune did not write this story. We reprinted a story first published by the Evansville Courier & Press — a paper that covers USI and its athletic teams regularly.

A couple of readers have asked why we would publish a story about a college athlete being pregnant and missing time. One even asked if we would write the same story if the subject was a male under the same circumstances.

The answer: Yes. If a male college athlete of local interest had taken a leave from his team because he was a new or prospective father — and that detail was revealed — we would report it as such.

Valentine’s coach, Rick Stein, revealed the reason for Valentine’s absence from the team to the Evansville paper and it then, in my opinion, became newsworthy to print. Readers now know the reason Valentine — a key member of the USI team — will not be participating the rest of the season. Also, Valentine is an adult, not a minor, and a scholarship athlete at a state-supported university.

Of course, I wish Valentine a healthy pregnancy and baby, and hopefully a successful return to basketball. But that has nothing to do with a decision on whether or not to run an article such as this. It was a simple story about a local athlete not being able to play for a specific reason, and that reason was revealed by her school.



AN ACT OF PET CARE

A couple of week ago, I put up a fake Christmas tree to The Office Supply Co. on Spring Street in Jeffersonville. Jeff Frey and his staff were nice enough to agree to participate in No Kill Louisville’s Angel Tree program, and Wednesday I picked up the first bundle of gifts to area shelters and rescue groups donated by generous people.

In an act of disclosure, I’ll let readers know that my girlfriend is president of No Kill Louisville, and I decided I wanted to help out by becoming a tree volunteer for the nonprofit organization this year, working with Office Supply.

But the real helpers are you — the people who go to one of several locations hosting the trees, take an ornament tag and return an item or items which can tangibly help organizations that work to save animals — such as the J.B. Ogle and New Albany-Floyd County animal shelters, among others.

In Southern Indiana, trees are set up in Jeffersonville at Office Supply, 417 Spring St.; Perkfection Cafe, 359 Spring St.; and Moments Photography, 2948 E. 10th St.

Please stop by, grab an ornament tag and bring back an item to the business that will then be distributed by No Kill Louisville to area locations which help pets. Visit nokill-louisville.com for more information on the Pet Angel Tree Program.



DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR ME?

With Debbie Harbeson’s departure from this normal Thursday column spot, it’s my goal to write much more often to stay in touch with readers, and encourage other staff members to write as well.

I also want to use this forum to have more of a dialogue with readers. I’d love to be able to do a mailbag section where I answer your questions at least once a month.

But just like with the Pet Angel Tree program, I need your help.

Is there something you would like to know about the workings of the newspaper or coverage that you’ve just never asked? Please send any and all questions to “Ask the Editor” via email at shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com or mail them to Shea Van Hoy, News and Tribune, 221 Spring St., Jeffersonville, IN, 47130.

I look forward to doing the best I can to answer your questions. Thank you for reading.

— Shea Van Hoy is editor of the News and Tribune.