Friday, March 03, 2006

It's called reporting. Report.

If you read this blog then you probably read the Capital-Journal and know about the row between Topeka NAACP chapter President Glenda Overstreet and Topeka Police Detectives Kenneth Eaton and George Campbell.

In short strokes, in her capacity as a Capital-Journal columnist, Ms. Overstreet wrote about a court proceeding which she viewed as racially skewed. Two Topeka police officers sent her some provocative correspondence that raised her hackles. She asked that they have their employment terminated. The officers have been placed on administrative leave. The city had a meeting.

Since this issue is political and its outcome has everything to do with public perception then it follows that the basis of that perception, matters.

Since it follows that in a circumstance such as this, news coverage combined with each individual member of the community's views on relevant subjects, including but not limited to, race, police authority, the first amendment, etc. is the basis for public perception, then it also follows that what is and is not included in the news coverage matters.

As I read articles, op-ed pieces and letters to the editor pertaining to this story certain begged questions come to be. One area of interest that remains unaddressed is in what context were the e-mails that the officers sent Ms. Overstreet composed? Were they sent from city e-mail accounts? Were they composed while on duty? Did the authors identify themselves as police officers?

Neither the city nor the department is speaking plainly about this aspect of the dustup yet and this is frankly understandable, if the investigation is still unfolding. The Capital-Journal has made it clear that the answers to these questions are not being made available by the city or the department.

What the reporting has not told us is what Ms. Overstreet could reveal about the context of the e-mails. She received them. She could show them to the paper. Has she? Has the paper asked to see them? The paper is not at the mercy of the city. The e-mails were sent to Ms. Overstreet in response to her writing for the Capital-Journal.

This is an important data-point in the development of an informed opinion. For the paper to devote as much ink to this issue as it has, and to not ask it's own columnist to clear up this point is a disservice and merits some explanation.

Here are links to the stories to date.

Who will seek justice? (Published Friday, February 17, 2006)

Detectives, columnist feuding (Published Wednesday, March 1, 2006)

Officer advises caution (Published Thursday, March 2, 2006)

Police official cites lack of accountability (Published Friday, March 3, 2006)

Racism: A community forum (Published Friday, March 3, 2006)



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