Wednesday, January 02, 2013

First Wonderful Irony of 2013

News about the Gannett newspaper in Westchester County, N.Y., that chose to publish a detailed searchable database list of the names and home addresses of thousands of legal handgun-permit holders in Westchester County and neighboring Rockland County. (While neglecting to do any actual reporting on illegal weapons or the proliferation of assault weapons). 

The paper, the Gannett-owned Journal News, has hired armed guards for its headquarters in Nyack and a suburban office in Rockland County  because of "negative" reader e-mail and phone calls. 

From Politico:

"The Journal News of West Nyack, N.Y., has hired armed security guards to defend its offices after receiving a torrent of phone calls and emails responding to the paper's publication of the names and addresses of area residents with pistol permits.
"RGA Investigations, a private security company, "is doing private security on location at the Journal News as a result of the negative response to the article," according to a police report first obtained by the Rockland County Times (Nanuet, N.Y.) and shared with POLITICO. The guards "are armed and will be on site during business hours through at least January 2, 2013." 

The report from the weekly Rockland County Times report is headlined, "The Journal News Is Armed and Dangerous." It says:  

"A Clarkstown police report issued on December 28, 2012, confirmed that the Journal News has hired armed security guards from New City-based RGA Investigations and that they are manning the newspaper's Rockland County headquarters at 1 Crosfield Ave., West Nyack, through at least tomorrow, Wednesday, January 2, 2013.
"According to police reports on public record, Journal News Rockland Editor Caryn A. McBride was alarmed by the volume of 'negative correspondence,' namely an avalanche of phone calls and emails to the Journal News office, following the newspaper's publishing of a map of all pistol permit holders in Rockland and Westchester."

(By the way, there is an interesting and overlooked good story in journalism these days, and that's the growing energy of some weekly papers in markets where the daily is a big fat lazy corporate slug. An example I can think of offhand is the weekly Nogales (Arizona) International and its singularly aggressive reporting on border issues in southern Arizona (as well as other local issues). The only daily that has indicated any real interest in digging at these critically important border stories stories is, weirdly enough, the Los Angeles Times, based 450 miles away but increasingly smart about the overlooked important news in southern Arizona.)

Anyway, back to Westchester County: The publisher and the editor of the Journal News had been piously defending the decision to publicly shame their neighbors (and readers) who have gun permits, the clear implication being that these legal permit-holders somehow are linked to the horror of the shootings of schoolchildren and teachers in Connecticut last month by a homicidal maniac using an assault weapon that he borrowed from his gun-nut mother (who he also murdered).

But now the Journal News is itself packing heat because of ... some negative reader e mail?

According to the Rockland County Times (quoting the Clarkstown police report),  the newspaper hired RGA Investigations (run by one Richard Ayoob) after its Rockland County editor, one Caryn A. McBride, filed two police reports about "perceived threats." One of those reports said that McBride became alarmed by a reader-mail in which the writer wondered (according to the police report) "what McBride would get in her mail now."  The editor told the police there was other "negative correspondence" in reaction to the Journal News publishing the public database of names and addresses of gun-permit holders.

Police said the e-mail that so alarmed Editor McBride  did not constitute an offense and did not contain an "actual threat," the Rockland County Times noted.

But still, it's probably best not to write a negative letter to the editor of the Journal News till the heat goes away.

After all, they know where you live -- and they have guns.


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