New York paper backs down; 'seen the error of their ways'

Dateline: Mon 21 Jan 2013

I remember a cop reporter at the Indianapolis Star explaining years ago why he had an unlisted phone number. Too many nut jobs out there, he said, who would take offense at his stories and possibly seek to correct his errors, real or imagined, in the flesh.

Privacy. It's a beautiful and sensitive thing. We are all grateful for it....

Which is why there was such an outcry over the decision by a silly little Gannett newspaper in New York state to publish the names, addresses and other personal information of several thousand legal gun-owners in their area.

Now the paper (partially in response to a new law passed in New York guaranteeing the privacy of gun-owners) has backed down. The information about who is packing is no longer online.

Game of chicken, and the newspaper, which acted so tough initially, totally lost.

As they should.




Tom Greenacres [unverified] said:

My father, who was a political reporter, and my wife when she was at the Star, used to get odd phone calls from people who didn't like what they'd written, or wanted something written, or wanted to report somebody doing something they shouldn't. Early on I was tutored by my mother to say "He isn't in." But when wife worked for the Frankfort Times and reported on drug use in Clinton County, things escalated to shouted driveby threats on the street. Caller i.d. and answering machines have taken much of the worry out.

2013-01-21 17:42:25

hendy [Member] said:

There is rumor that someone found a way to hack the paper's source information, a database collected of whom is whom. Gack.

2013-01-21 22:41:26

George Stuteville [unverified] said:

Was I that reporter,Ruth? Can't remember. But I had an unlisted private telephone number in those days. One reason why was because a guy I wrote a number of stories about (he was a felon with a legal gun permit who killed someone -- 60 Minutes eventually covered the story) used to come down to the Star's office in cop shop late at night when I was working to have a "little talk." It was most unsettling to be there at 1 a.m., no one around, me with my back to the door typing out crime statistics and getting "a little visit" from someone who had been upset about my coverage. That said, the unlisted number meant squat.

As to the paper and the gun permits...I think it would have been a legitimate story if it had been reported in a way that linked density of gun ownership to crime (or lack of it) or income or some other context and if the information had been reported in the aggregate rather than the particular.

2013-01-22 10:43:28

Roberta X [unverified] said:

I thought the whole thing was kind of sad, a misguided attempt to coattail on an attention-grabbing national story making a messy situation messier.

While the "sauce for the gander" response was satisfyingly symmetrical, the problem is that the scary nutjobs of the world probably made note of the newspaper staff's addresses in the same grimy notebook they'd used to copy the gun-owner addresses. All sides forget that this doesn't take place in some sterile lab.

2013-01-26 23:26:17

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