Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's The Prosecutor vs. The Sheriff as Moore Backs Webb

Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore tells the KY3 Political Notebook he's endorsing Mark Webb for County Sheriff in 2008. The announcement today pits prosecutor Moore against the current Sheriff in the race to replace Jack Merritt next year.

Greene County Sheriff Jack Merritt is the treasurer for the campaign of Chief Deputy Jim Arnott. But Moore says many will be surprised at the competitive campaign former police officer Mark Webb will wage against Arnott in the Republican primary.

I featured the Arnott vs. Webb match-up in the context of a larger story about crime statistics on Tuesday's KY3 News @ 10.

"I told Jim it was nothing personal," Moore said in an interview today. "I just think Mark would do the better job. I know him from back in high school, he interned for me and I think he offers a new perspective on it all," he added.


Phil said...

Mr. Catanese,

I would like to make a few observations regarding your 12/04/07 story about "Prosecutor's Crime Stats". First of all, the story that you presented was represented as a story about crime stats and filing trends. The discussion with Darrell Moore indicated that crime was on the rise due to several reasons, (poverty, population, lack of parental supervision, etc). None of the reasons for the reduction in the number of criminal case filings appeared to be directed towards law enforcement officers, in fact Darrell Moore, or maybe it was you who stated that he had developed creative ways to deal with cases other than filing charges. My point here is that the officers from all agencies are tasked with responding to calls for service, documenting criminal acts, and presenting all of them to the Greene County Prosecutor for the filing of charges. This is what the law enforcement officers do, there is no option for them, complaints are made, cases are submitted to the Prosecutor, it is that simple. Law enforcement officers are the instruments for the prosecutors and the court system decides who does or does not get their justice, not the officers. So in no possible way do the officers determine the number of cases that Darrell Moore files.

Here is where I have the problem. How do you make the ridiculous reporting leap into the race for Greene County Sheriff from the afore mentioned story? What part of this has anything to do with the sheriff's department? It seems that there was no connection made between these two entirely separate topics. In fact, all of the images and footage shown depicted the Springfield Police Department, who in fact do handle the larger percentage of the reported crimes. Where was your interview with the Springfield Police Chief, or how about the Republic Police Chief? Wouldn't they have some input on crime stats and trends? In the broadcasted segment of your interview with Mark Webb and with Jim Arnott there were no questions about criminal trends or increases in crime. How can you possibly end your story with comments that there is some issue or dispute or race between the prosecutor and the sheriff. This is simply ridiculous, an unclear attempt to spin the prosecutors lack of filing cases onto the back of the sheriff's department.

If you want to talk politics, bring the candidates together and talk politics, but make it clear that the issue at hand is the political race for sheriff. When you arrange this, be fair to all. Give all parties involved notice of your intentions and let everybody speak equally. Your report allowed Darrell Moore to go on and on, and if the topic truly was prosecutor reported crime stats, then that would have been just fine. You then allow Mark Webb 30 plus seconds to present his plan. Jim Arnott, 15 seconds to respond to only one of Webb's statements. What about Jack Merritt? Where was his interview? You talked enough about him and his competitive support for a candidate, but he didn't get to respond. If your news director won't allow a direct, to the point political story on the local sheriff's race, then you should find another forum. The answer is not to manipulate a news story to suit your specific tastes and preferences. Just be fair.

Thank you.

David Catanese said...


Your argument about combining the 2 stories may have a point to it. The idea was to broaden the story into how those crime statistics could become an issue in the 2008 Sheriff's race. You have a right to your opinion on whether I accomplished that goal.

But just so you know, real world restrictions sometimes hamper the perfect story.

You should know both candidates were asked about the crime statistics, but in my judgment the key distinction they made about their approach to crime had to do with the jail issue and housing offenders.

Both candidates were contacted and Mr. Arnott was not able to make it to our studio until close to 9:30 p.m. for our interview for our 10 p.m. broadcast. Therefore, our time with him was restricted and pushed us to the deadline. Many would have given the candidates a cut off time and run the story without them, but we were more than fair in accomodating both. Counting the seconds each were allowed to speak is a petty way to judge the fairness of a story. It was balanced with both sides.

Secondly, we did request an interview with Sheriff Jack Merritt. But we were told he was unavailable because he was in Jefferson City.

You can always ask for more in a story, but time constraints prevent talking to all those people you listed. Overall, we were as balanced as possible with the time we had.

Again, you have a right to your opinion whether the story was a success. But it's hard to make the case we weren't fair.